As a native Los Angelino, I consider one of the city’s gems to be the Watts Towers. Completed in 1954 by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia, a construction worker without any art training, he would come home after work and slowly but surely (it took him 33 years) build “17 interconnecting sculptures adorned with intricate mosaics.” He used steel rods and pipes for the main supports and embedded pieces of porcelain, tile, bottles, and sea shells.
According to the LA Times, when the city of Los Angeles finally found Rodia’s masterpiece, the head of the municipal Building and Safety Department wrote this in a memo: “Personally, I think this is the biggest pile of junk outside a junkyard that I have ever seen.”
Quite the contrary, no? The Watts Towers have come to signify something very special to the city and since 1990, were designated as a Los Angeles landmark.
Over the years, tiny cracks and weather conditions have deteriorated the towers. In 2011, the Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs contracted with LACMA to help with maintenance and restoration.
Read here for more on how the restoration of The Watts Towers is coming along.