Rodia’s Watts Towers

Watts Towers Watts Towers

Located in the Watts community of Los Angeles is the Simon Rodia State Historic Park. On that landmark site are a collection of 17 interconnected sculptural structures, towers and walls. The Italian American who created the Watts Towers, also known as Nuestro Pueblo (Our Town), was Simon Rodia who was born in Serino (Avellino), Italy.

At age 15, he came to America and lived with his brother in PA. After his brother died in a mining mishap, Rodia moved on to Seattle then Oakland and, finally, in 1920, settled in Watts.

Working alone with tools and scraps of bottles still bearing logos, mirrors, seashells, tiles, and railroad tracks brought to him by neighbors, Rodia, in 1921, began to build the Watts Towers. During the construction process, which was not completed until 1954, he faced problems of obtaining city permits and vandalism. Aging and frustrated with the red tape, Rodia quit-claimed the property to a neighbor and relocated to Martinez, CA where he died years later.

He never returned to his towers, the tallest of which was 99 feet. The 33-year project became famous worldwide following engineering tests to establish the safety of the towers and avoidance of the demolition of the structures. The structures suffered little from an earthquake in 1994 with only a few pieces shaken loose. Watts Towers has taken its place among aging works of art. Rodia died at age 86.