Inside Los Angeles: The Watts Towers

Inside Los Angeles: The Watts Towers

The Watts Towers of Watts district in Los Angeles, CA are one of the 9 folk art sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Starting as a fun expression of talent it became a National Historic Landmark in 1990. The building continued for 33 years from 1921 till 1954 by Italian immigrant Sabato Rodia (Sam or Simon).

Construction worker by daytime, Sam was creating his towers after work on his private piece of land. He called it “Nuestro Pueblo” which means “our town” in Spanish.
The amateur sculptures were made of steel pipes and rods, covered with mortar and decorated with tiles, porcelain, glass, pieces of pottery, found objects and hand design. Rodia was working with no machine equipment; he only used simple hand tools and window-washer belt.

“Nuestro Pueblo” consists of three towers – 16.76, 29.5 and 30 meters high. The highest tower is known for having the longest slender reinforced concrete column in the world. In 1956 the site of Simon’s Rodia work was about to be demolished, but had been saved by a group of concerned citizens who collected signatures, money and made the engineering test to prove that the towers are strong and safe. Every year thousands of people are attracted by the unique beauty of the Watts Towers along with annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival and the Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival.

[Sources: The Watts Towers Art Center]

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