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It’s Leaf-Peepin’ Season in Cooper Square: New Plaza Gets Dozens of Trees

(Photo: Michael Garofalo)

(Photo: Michael Garofalo)

The long redesign of Cooper Square and Astor Place is finally nearing completion– knock on wood. This morning, landscapers worked to plant dozens of new trees around the square. We’re told that in total about 55 trees—oaks, sweetgums, and blackgumswill be planted over the next few days, bringing some much needed greenery to the area.

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Another Mosiac Man Lamppost Returns to Astor Place; Cube Still Nowhere to be Found

Jim Power with his mosaic lampposts (Photo: Michael Garofalo)

Jim Power with his mosaic lampposts (Photo: Michael Garofalo)

Jim Power, better known around the East Village as the “Mosaic Man,” was on hand for the reinstallation of another of his ceramic-encrusted lampposts along Astor Place this morning, the third of seven poles that will eventually return to the redesigned blocks around Cooper Square. Power, 69, observed from his mosaic-laden motorized scooter as staff from the Village Alliance positioned the lamppost near the Astor Place subway entrance, pausing to chat with neighborhood friends and curious passersby.

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More Salad Tossers Coming to Astor Place, Sweetgreen Sprouting New Location

The future home of Sweetgreen (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

The future home of Sweetgreen (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

In just a couple of weeks, 10 Astor Place will be home to yet another franchise of the ever-popular mini-chain Sweetgreen whose salad-tossing expertise and local-farm-to-tongs ethos have hoisted them to top of the lettuce pile, so to speak. In a city full of assembly-line salad joints that follow Subway’s personalized sandwich-prep model (without being gross about it), Sweetgreen seems to be sweeping the competition– their Williamsburg location regularly draws lunch-hour lines extending all the way to the door, making them a standout in the fast food new wave that’s taking over our increasingly health-obsessed city.

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Some Pieces Still Broken, But Mosaic Man’s Work Returns to a New Astor Place

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(Photo: John Ambrosio)

Jim Power, working out his makeshift studio at the 6th Street Community Center, is busy getting ready to leave his mark on the new Astor Place Plaza, using the same creations he’s been planting around the East Village for the last 30 years: mosaics. With the help of his assistant, Julie Powell, he’s scraping, chiseling, and tiling new poles. The product of all this work is something that he and the rest of the East Village are quite used to seeing at this point, so much so that Power’s earned the nickname “Mosaic Man” for the dozens of colorful, chipped tile pieces he’s congealed together, then cemented onto light posts over the years.

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Mosaic Poles Return to Astor Place, But Cube Won’t Be Back Til August

(Photo: @AstorPlaceNYC)

(Photo: @AstorPlaceNYC)

Last month, the city’s Department of Design and Construction told us the Astor Place cube was set to return in June. Today was supposed to be the big day, according to a construction update noticed by EV Grieve. But alas, the newly redesigned Alamo Plaza is still as cube-less as a sad cup of iced coffee left out in the sun too long. The city now says it won’t happen till August.

A DDC rep told us today that the cube was “awaiting final inspection by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Once completed, it will be delivered and re-installed.” A spokesperson for the Parks Department, which has traditionally been involved in the upkeep of Tony Rosenthal’s beloved sculpture, added, “The City is looking forward to an installation of the Cube in August. The Cube must first be inspected by a conservator.”

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A New Sock Man On the Block, Man

Customer at the new sock stand on St Marks Place (Photo: Daniel Hoffman)

Customer at the sock stand on Astor Place (Photo: Daniel Hoffman)

We were bereaved last month when The Sock Man’s awning came down for good after 33 years on St. Marks Place. But what’s this? This morning we spotted a new sock man selling $2 tube socks, beanies and chullos on Astor Place, a block away from the old Sock Man’s location. Totally tubular! With spring just around the corner, it might be his time to shine.

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Work Begins at Astor Place and the Cube Will Soon Return From… Jersey!?

Former home of the cube. (Photos: Daniel Maurer)

Former home of the cube. (Photos: Daniel Maurer)

Hard to believe, but it’s now been over a year since our beloved Astor Place cube was boxed up and unceremoniously hoisted onto a flatbed and hauled off. We were briefly consoled by a human cube on Halloween, but mostly there’s been a hole in our heart — or, at Astor Place, anyway — where the cube used to be. This week, however, excavation of the future Astor Plaza finally commenced, and the city tells us the reconstruction should be completed by spring.

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The Many Acts of the Academy of Music, a ‘Sanctum Sanctorum of High Culture’

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

The Academy of Music, on 14th Street and Irving Place. (Image: public domain)

The Academy of Music, on 14th Street and Irving Place. (Image: public domain)

New York City publisher Horace Greeley considered the Academy of Music opera house so ugly that he is reported to have asked how much it would cost to burn the place down. “If the price is not unreasonable,” he is said to have declared, “have it done and send me the bill.” Greeley got his wish in 1866, but the opera was rebuilt. Fifty more years would pass before the Academy of Music — the largest opera in the world when it opened 1854 — was finally demolished.

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Jeff Koons Balloon Bunny Bout to Make Fanciest Drug Store this Side of Heaven

Photo by Kavitha Surana

Photo by Kavitha Surana

As construction around Astor Place continues to make things noisy and horrible around Cooper Square — for real though, navigating those sidewalks is beginning to feel a little bit like a game of minefield —  there’s a little pocket of weird opening up this Sunday that hints toward a strange future for the area.

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