Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Watts Towers

On our way to the airport we made one last stop: the Watts Towers.

Named for the neighborhood where they are located, the Watts Towers are a collection of 17 interconnected structures, the tallest of which is 99 feet high. They were all built by one man, an Italian immigrant construction worker named Simon Rodia, who created them in his spare time over the course of 33 years.

Constructed from steel pipes and rods, wrapped with wire mesh, and coated with mortar, the towers are embedded with pieces of porcelain, tile, and glass, and found objects such as bed frames, bottles, scrap metal, and sea shells.

These tiles spell out "SR 1921" (his initials and the year he started the project) and "Nuestro Pueblo," which is what he called the property. The flower shapes pressed in the concrete were made using garden hose spigots.

You can see a lot of fragments of vintage soda bottles.

The whole place is shaped like a boat. Our tour guide said he guessed that Simon intended to recreate the ship he sailed to America on.

In 1955, Rodia mysteriously left Los Angeles, giving the property away to a neighbor, and never returned. A year later his house, which was located within the structures, burned down. There is a wooden platform indicating where the house once stood, which was quite an unexpected revelation for me, as it's really hard to imagine this place as someone's backyard.

After the tour we watched this short film about the towers, made in the 50s while Rodia still lived there. Interestingly enough, the musical score, which was created just for this film, was later used in a very famous TV series. (I'll let you figure out which one.)

And so concludes my long and drawn out vacation slide show. I hope it was actually enjoyable for anyone else who was reading it!

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to go to the Watts Towers. The video was really nice. I enjoyed your vacation slides!