Los Angeles, California: Simon Rodia - Watts Junk TowersAn oft analyzed massive junk art construction of tall spires by outsider artist Simon Rodia.
Simon Rodia State Historic Park
- 1765 East 107th St., Los Angeles, CA
- South of downtown Los Angeles, in Watts, between Graham Ave. and S. Wilmington Ave. along Santa Ana Blvd.
- W-Sa 10-4, Su 12-4. Closed M-Tu. Call for tour info. (Call to verify)
- Adults $7, 13-17 and seniors $3
- RA Rates:
- Major Fun
Visitor Tips and News About Simon Rodia - Watts Junk Towers
Although the site is currently scaffolded for some renovation, tours are still available for a suggested donation of $5.00.
When I was there the scaffolding was coming down and they were expecting to open up the site for tours again soon. The site is fenced and you can only go inside with a tour. Tour info: www.wattstowers.us[Konrad R Summers, 06/05/2009]
A documentary of Simon Rodia and the building of the Watts Towers is available for free download from Archive.org... http://www.archive.org/details/TowersTh1957
"The Tower" was released in 1957 and follows Simon as he fashions his towers out of found materials. Simon talks in an italian accent about what compelled him to create this LA landmark. Views of late 1950's Watts, along with Rodia walking the railroad tracks, looking for construction materials, climbing the towers, and various views of the Towers.[Robert, 03/31/2006]
We noticed that our own Ken Smith's comments on the film appear (from his stint as Prelinger Archives researcher): "This documentary has 'pretentious UCLA filmmaker' stamped all over it, from the pompous narration to the artsy camera angles to the annoying flute/piano/viola score...lots of CUs of Simon's gnarled hands; cement, busted ceramic plates and mugs and tiles all over the metal framework of his 100+ foot towers; typical folk art junk: bottles, teapots; 'he had an urgent need for expression'."
Simon Rodia - Watts Towers
Truly amazing. In a lot of photos, you don't see that the Watts Towers are not just metal -- they are very artfully decorated with colorful glass and pottery. The towers are fenced in, and behind them there is a nice cement step/seating area. There are plaques on the fence along 107th St. that tell about how they were built (no power tools!) as well as the life history of Simon Rodia. An earlier tip reported an admission fee and a possible tour -- we didn't see anything of the sort. Maybe we just didn't look in the right place, though. Still, an enjoyable experience and an attraction we will come back to again and again.[Kellie Parker, 12/26/2005]
Watts Junk Towers
This is one of the ultimate outsider arts location in the country, if not the world. It was build by Italian emigrant Simon Rodia. He started building this in 1921 and it took him 33 years to finish. It is made out of bits and pieces of anything he could find: bent steel, rebar, wire, cement, broken bottles and tile. The larger tower is almost 100 feet.[Lauren, 06/03/2005]
Imagine having the vision to build spires reaching into the Los Angeles sky. Such was the lot of Simon Rodia, an Italian immigrant who designed and built (without the aid of ladders) Watts Towers, the tallest of which is almost 100 feet high. The towers and the surrounding grounds -- where Rodia once lived -- are studded with mosaics formed of carefully inlaid glass (mostly soda bottles). Tours are available, and you'll want to sign up if you'd like a closer look. Otherwise, you can gawk from outside the fence. Nearby is an arts center for youths.[Doris Truong, 08/26/2003]