Love Thursday: Los Angeles’ Watts Towers by Simon Rodia, Italian Immigrant

This week’s Love Thursday comes from our trusty correspondent Salena who recently did a great 3-part series on the Watts Towers by Simon Rodia over at her place, The Daily Rant. Salena saw a special theme emerge as she was taking beautiful photos of this amazing creation, though, and she was kind enough to share with us:

Love Blooms in L.A.

I had never even heard of this magnificent structure — so imagine my surprise when I found out that the Italian immigrant who built it actually went to America to work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. Rodia was from Ribottoli, outside of Naples, and his real first name was Sabato.

In 1921, Rodia purchased the triangular-shaped lot at 1761-1765 107th Street in Los Angeles and began to construct his masterpiece, which he called “Nuestro Pueblo” (meaning “our town”). For 34 years, Rodia worked single-handedly to build his towers without benefit of machine equipment, scaffolding, bolts, rivets, welds or drawing board designs.

Besides his own ingenuity, he used simple tools, pipe fitter pliers and a window-washer’s belt and buckle.

Construction worker by day and artist by night, Rodia adorned his towers with a diverse mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, generic pottery and tile, a rare piece of 19th-century, hand painted Canton ware and many pieces of 20th-century American ceramics.

Rodia once said, “I had it in mind to do something big and I did it.”

The tallest of his towers stands 99Β½ feet and contains the longest slender reinforced concrete column in the world. The monument also features a gazebo with a circular bench, three bird baths, a center column and a spire reaching a height of 38 feet. Rodia’s “ship of Marco Polo” has a spire of 28 feet, and the 140-foot long “south wall” is decorated extensively with tiles, sea shells, pottery, glass and hand-drawn designs.

Thanks so much Salena for sharing these photos and

this inspiring story about a man, a dream, love, hard work, and persistence.

Happy Love Thursday to all!

[All text in block quotes comes from the Watts Towers website.]

11 Beans of Wisdom to “Love Thursday: Los Angeles’ Watts Towers by Simon Rodia, Italian Immigrant”
  1. 07.22.2010

    Had I not read the text, I would have sworn this was Barcelona, not LA, and that it was Gaudi’s work, not an Italian immigrant who already had an exhausting day job.

    Oh, the power of love. The power of passion. Proven over and over and over again.

    My mosaic heart loves this. My creative intuition is drawn to it. I have been complaining about the heat for days now. Time to stop and to get working on some nighttime creations.

    Can’t wait to see your nighttime creations, Diana πŸ™‚

  2. Gil

    Salena has a great eye for excellent photos just like you! That place looks totally amazing.

    Agreed on both accounts πŸ™‚

  3. 07.22.2010

    What a creative accomplishment! It reminded me of Barcelona, too.

    Glad you enjoyed!

  4. 07.23.2010

    This is an incredible piece of artwork. I’d never heard of it before. It’s an impressive job of photographing the work also.

    Salena always takes wonderful photos indeed πŸ™‚

  5. 07.23.2010

    I’ve been there. It reminds me of Kathmandu – a lovely place. Great pictures.

    Great to “see” you, Jennifer πŸ™‚

  6. 07.25.2010

    I’ve known about the sculpture since I was a kid, even though I haven’t been west of the Mississippi, from a TV program (I think it was an “After School Special” or something of the sort). I think it was probably semi-fictional, or at least romanticized, but I wish I could find it again. I tried googling but no luck. Doesn’t anyone else remember that by chance?

    Hmmm is it this? Daniel and the Towers.

  7. 07.26.2010

    OMG! That is amazing! So beautiful and creative! Bravo to Rodia…such talent and vision!


    Agreed Pam!

  8. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I had no idea. And if i’m ever in the LA area, I will have to track it down.. and I LOVE the first comment here.

    Me too Mimi πŸ™‚

  9. Maya

    This was beautiful!

    My mom has had an old greeting card on display in her livingroom for years that reads:

    ‘All I know of Love is Love is all there is’

    It’s terribly hot in Pennsylvania right now; hope things are cooler in Italy.

    LOVE that saying, Maya! It just got cooler here yesterday…yay! Hope you get some fresh air soon too πŸ™‚

  10. Bud

    I fell for the Watts Towers in 1959! The city of LA building department engineers thought they were dangerous! I ran a 100- foot high structural test and proved them wrong! Movies about the Watts Towers include “Daniel and the Towers” some years ago. The Towers are famous now but not in 1959 when they were almost demolished!

    How wonderful, Bud; thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  11. Ugh – I’m so behind in my reading that I’m JUST getting here! I’m so glad you used this for your Love Thursday – you’ve sort of “ruined” me (in a good way) because now I look for hearts in unexpected places! And the large format of the pictures are beautiful….I like. πŸ™‚

    I’m way behind too…was happy to be able to finally get this story and photos up!

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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