Lighting Up The Astor Place Cube (Or, Throwies on the Alamo)

On Saturday night, I was walking through Astor Place past the iconic “Alamo” sculpture (aka The Big Black Cube That Has Never Actually Been Called The Alamo By Anyone Ever Other Than The Artist’s Wife Who Named It) when I noticed it looking distinctly Christmas Tree-ish:


I crossed to the island, where something neat was happening: a growing crowd was enthusiastically tossing little colored magnetic lights at the cube, while others spun it around:


I’m apparently new to the phenomenon of LED Throwies – Devised by the Graffiti Research Lab in 2006, each Throwie consists of 1) an LED light, 2) a battery, 3) a magnet, and 4) a piece of electrical tape holding the whole thing together. You can make a bunch for relatively little money and spend a fun, nerdy Saturday night tossing these at anything metal (fire escapes, street lights, etc.) and making the neighborhood a little more magical. I think Mr. Wizard would approve.


And I gotta say, the Cube definitely looked pretty great with a little decoration (apparently not the first time it’s been done – see The Cube being attacked by Throwies in this 2007 video):


When the Throwie supply was drained (I’m told there were about 300), the crowd (who was loving this) then took on the challenge of ripping off any light within reach and moving it as high up as possible:


The whole thing was pretty great. In the back of my mind, I was feeling sorry for whoever was going to have to remove all the lights after they burned out…


…But when I walked by the next morning, only two were left (and they were both still lit).


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  1. Fantastic! That cube can stand a little glow. Love the images of happy throwies and observers – good use of Astor Place.

  2. My question would be “What happened to the other298?” did they fall off? Or were they stolen?

  3. This makes me as happy as anything has in that area since they build the big hideous glass mirror building.

  4. The Observer is quite saddened that he missed those.

  5. i didn’t know about the homemade version of these lights. i got some packs from thinkgeek a couple years ago. and they actually came in handy when we lost power on christmas eve