Watts Towers: Art in a Unexpected Place

Kelly Best of LA, Kelly Leave a Comment

This week we are writing about our favorite places around Los Angeles, and one of my favorites is definitely Watts Towers. Located only 15 mins south of campus, it is easy to make the trip here to see something really unique. It is also a registered National Historic Landmark!

The three main towers!

The three main towers!

Watts Towers is a collection of 17 interconnected structures all made entirely by one man, Simon Rodia. Simon Rodia was an Italian immigrant who, over a 33 year period from 1921-1954, designed and built all the structures entirely alone and by hand. The structures are made out of rebar, concrete, and wire mesh which gave Rodia creative freedom to make interesting shapes. The coolest feature of the Towers are the objects that were placed in the concrete to give the structures a decorative touch. Simon would collect a variety of scrap objects with the help of the neighborhood children, such as soda bottles, shells, pottery, glass, and mosaic. He really used anything he could get his hands on to add pops of color throughout the towers! His piece of work was a tribute to his home country of Italy, and a monument to the people who work hard to make their dreams come true.

How Simon Rodia Built Art

Because he spent 33 years (and worked everyday!) on his art, the site of towers and structures got so big that it entirely took over his house and land plot! The city of Los Angeles started to get upset with Rodia, so one day Rodia unexpectedly decided to quit working and leave because he was tired to fighting the city to obtain permits for his work. He then asked his neighobor to watch over his lifelong piece of art. The City of Los Angeles then tried to condemn and destroy the plot, but due to its popularity artists, architects, community activists, and enthusiasts from all over the world fought to save the towers.

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Although Rodia passed away, his work is still celebrated today. At the site of the towers there is now an Arts Center and guided tours are offered so that you can go inside to get a closer look and learn more about Rodia. I would strongly recommend going!




Civil Engineering, Class of 2016, Learn more on her profile here!

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