“I had in mind to do something big and I did it.” That’s what Simon Rodia said about his work.
Designed by Italian immigrant Sabato (Simon) Rodia, Watts Towers are a famous example of vernacular architecture, located in the Watts district, Los Angeles. The talented construction worker spent all his spare time, between 1921 and 1954, working on this collection of 17 interconnected steel towers. The amateur structures are made from steel rods wrapped in wire and coated in mortar.
Rodia decorated his architectural masterpieces with found stuff, like bottle caps, seashells, broken glass and pottery. Children from all over the neighborhood would search for pieces of glass and bring it to Simon Rodia, in hope their findings would be included in his project.
Unfortunately, the talented Italian didn’t get along with his neighbors and he’d often find his Watts Towers vandalized. One day, sick of all the abuse, he left and never came back. In the following years his work became more and more popular, but the towers were about to be teared down by the city, when community activists formed the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts and managed to save them.
Nowadays, Watts Towers is a Historical Park.