Watts Tower

Location: Los Angeles, California

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Sabato Rodia was born in Serino, Italy (AV) in 1879 and arrived in the United States around 1894. He came to Watts in 1921 at age 42 and was commonly known as “Sam”. The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, his masterpiece and the world’s largest single construction created by one individual, was his obsession for 33 years. He called it “Nuestro Pueblo” or “Our Town”. It is located in the community of Watts in South Central Los Angeles, California.

The Watts Towers structure, consisting of seventeen major sculptures was created by Italian immigrant Sabato “Simon” Rodia out of steel covered with mortar and embellished by the decorative finishing of mosaic tiles, glass, clay, shells and rock. There is no welded inner armature. Rodia wired rebar together then wrapped this joint with wire mesh and hand packed it with mortar and his mosaic surface.

In 1959, the International Conference of Museum Curators resolved that “Rodia’s Towers are a unique combination of sculpture and architecture and the paramount work of folk art of the 20th century in the United States.” The Towers are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are a National Historic Landmark, a State of California Historic Monument, a State of California Historic Park and, in March 1965, the Watts Towers were officially designated as Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument Number 15. At the time the Towers were owned by the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts: William Cartwright, Nicholas King, Edward Farrell, Bud Goldstone, Herbert Kahn, Jack Levine, Jeanne Morgan and Seymour Rosen. The Towers were deeded to the City of Los Angeles Municipal Arts Department in 1975.