Watts Towers (Los Angeles, CA) : Doorway encrusted with ceramic plates leading into pergola walkway

Creator:
Rodia, Simon, 1879-1965
Published/Created:
Watts; 1711-1765 E. 107th Street, Los Angeles, California, United States
1921-1954
Physical Description:
99.5 ft (height, tallest tower)
Date Depicted:
12/29/2012
Materials:
steel rebar; concrete; wire mesh; found objects
Notes:
The Towers were built by Italian immigrant construction worker Sabato ("Sam" or "Simon") Rodia in his spare time over a period of 33 years, from 1921 to 1954. The work is an example of non-traditional vernacular architecture and naive art. Rodia had immigrated to the US ca. 1893. In 1921, in the garden of his frame house (now destroyed) in Watts, he began construction of a series of towers and garden ornaments, formed of steel bars (rebar) covered in layers of concrete reinforced with wire, encrusted with pieces of broken pottery, glass, broken bottles and sea shells. They are an open web of bars, self-supporting and built without aid of scaffolding, the tallest of them eventually rising to 99 ft. In 1954 Rodia abruptly stopped work on his garden sculpture and towers, and deeded them to a neighbor; he left Watts and moved to Martinez, near San Francisco. In 1957 the city of Los Angeles began proceedings to demolish the towers but a number of artists and others interested in the huge sculptures brought suit, subjected the towers to a stress test and convinced the city to leave the towers as a public cultural monument. They were designated both a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark in 1990.
Variant Titles:
Towers of Simon Rodia
Topics:
Architecture -- United States -- 20th century -- (YVRC)
Period/Style:
Naive Art
Twentieth century
Culture:
American
Accession Number:
1A1-RSI-WT-C07
Genre:
architecture (AAT)
towers (AAT)
Format:
Image
Content Type:
Sculptures, Models, & Architecture
Rights:
Copyright Scott Gilchrist, Archivision, Inc
The use of this image may be subject to the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) or to site license or other rights management terms and conditions. The person using the image is liable for any infringement.
Access Restrictions:
Yale Community Only
Digital:
built works; towers (single built works)
Source Creator:
Gilchrist, Scott
Source Title:
Archivision Addition Module Eight
Source Created:
2878 Chamonix, Montreal QC
Archivision, Inc.
12/29/2012 12:00:00 AM
Source Note:
Purchase, Visual Resources Collection, May, 2013; photographer Scott Gilchrist
Yale Collection:
Visual Resources Collection
Digital Collection:
Visual Resources Collection
Local Record Number:
4654
OID:
10897164
PID:
digcoll:1793337