Often compared to Spanish architect Antoni Guadi’s Sagrada Família, the Watts Towers is an outside art structure that the Cultural Heritage Commission of Los Angeles designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990. Italian immigrant Simon Rodia kept construction of the Watts Towers simple. He worked at railroad camps, rock quarries and as a logger. In the early 1920s he bought an empty lot covering 1761-1765 on East 107th street. He built his masterpiece at night while working a steady job during the day.
He called his towers Nuestro Pueblo, which in Spanish means “our town”. Watts, Los Angeles, named after Charles H. Watts, was once part of the Rancho La Tajauta Mexican land grant. In 1926 Watts was annexed by the city of Los Angeles.
The project took Rodia almost thirty five years. He used a window-washer’s belt & buckle to hoist himself up the steel structure. He needed nothing more than hand tools and pipe fitter pliers to build the towers.
The tallest tower stands 99.5 feet. Inside stands the tallest concrete column in the world. Around the spires are three bird baths and a gazebo. Rodia decorated his masterpiece with sea shells, tile and broken glass. He added a rare piece of hand painted Canton ware from the 19th-century and several 20th-century American ceramic pieces.
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