Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LA's Own Eiffle?

Los Angeles icons change throughout the decades. In the 60s, LA was known for its City Hall, Dodger Stadium, and Watts Towers.

As a kid, I had a View-Master with a disk of seven popular Western destinations. Las Vegas being one with that historic sign reading, "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas," and LA with a stereoscopic photo of the Watts Towers seemingly stretching to the heavens.

Forty-something years is a long time to finally visit the historic landmark. I followed the well-marked signs through South Central LA, across the Metro Blue Line tracks and into a neighborhood of weathered homes with chain link fences and power lines with multiple pair of shoes hanging from the wires. I looked up through my windshield hoping to find one the towers guiding my way, much like the Eiffel does in Paris. One block to go and there they were.

The Watts Towers were built between 1921 and 1954 by an Italian immigrant by the name of Sam Rodia. Over the course of 33 years, he build, by hand, 17 structures, the tallest reaching nearly 100 feet high (30 meters). The towers are made of fragments of bottles, plates, pottery, tiles--anything Sam could find. The Watts Towers are another example of vernacular architecture made popular in the early to mid 20th century.


Brenda's Arizona said...

Wow, these are impressive! My dad worked in Watts in the late 1950s - he never mentioned these! We used to have the Las Vegas View Master, too - and a Royal Gorge disk too. It was awesome!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

My downtown roommate Ruth Villasenor's mother and grandparents lived across the street from the Watts Towers. She told me that the neighborhood saved their broken crockery and bottles to pass on to Rodia.

I haven't been since they closed them down. Is it within walking distance from the Blue Line?

JT said...

Adjacent, Yes, about two blocks from the Blue Line. Great story about Ruth's family and their participation.

The homes across the street are, in my opinion, very cool! The neighborhood is part of "the hood" but well kept and more safe feeling than it was ten years ago. I really wanted to get to know the neighbors, learn their stories and get shots of them in front of their homes, but I was on break at work and had to go.

Anonymous said...

What a nice capture of the towers! Nice perspective. It is a classic landmark.