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Watts Towers

The Watts Towers
1765 East 107th St, Los Angeles

Built by construction worker Simon Rodia in his spare time over a period of 33 years, the Watts Towers are a collection of 17 structures, two of which reach a height of over 99 feet. The steel, concrete and glass folk-art structures were one of the few items that was not damaged during the 1965 Watts riots. They were started in 1921 and Rodia completed them in 1954.

The sculptures are constructed from steel pipes and rods, wrapped with wire mesh, coated with mortar, and embedded with pieces of porcelain, tile and glass. They are decorated with bed frames, bottles, ceramic tile, scrap metal and sea shells. Rodia called them "Nuestro Pueblo" (meaning "our town"). Rodia built them with no special equipment or a design, working alone with hand tools and window-washer's equipment.

Rodia donated the property to a neighbor. A local citizens committee raised money to protect the property and show it was safe, preserving it from demolition. After 16 years, the property was donated to the State of California in 1978, and is operated by the City of Los Angeles Parks Department.