The Los Angeles Watts Towers

  • Bud Goldstone and Arloa Paquin Goldstone

    The Watts Towers, located in south central Los Angeles, are the monumental work of one man: Simon Rodia. Born in Ribottoli, Italy, circa 1879, Rodia emigrated to the United States when he was approximately fifteen. In 1921, he purchased a triangular-shaped lot on a dead-end Los Angeles street alongside a railroad track. For the next thirty years he worked single-handedly, without machine equipment, scaffolding, bolts, rivets, welds, or drawing board designs, to build the seventeen sculptures that constitute the Watts Towers.

    Construction worker by day and artist by night, the unschooled Rodia adorned his towers with a diverse mosaic of broken glass, shells, pottery, and tiles. The tallest of the towers stands 99 1/2 feet.

    After Rodia moved away in 1955, the Department of Building and Safety ordered the Towers demolished, but a group of citizens including Bud Goldstone fought successfully to save them. Five years later they were designated a Cultural Heritage Monument by the City of Los Angeles, and since 1986 they have been the subject of a conservation effort involving city employees, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

    The Los Angeles Watts Towers recounts the story of Rodia and his creation, as well as the considerable history of the Watts area itself. Other chapters discuss Rodia's building techniques and materials, as well as the conservation efforts underway at the site. Visitors to the Towers and the armchair traveler alike will enjoy this in-depth look at Rodia and his singular creation.

    Bud Goldstone has been involved in the preservation of Simon Rodia's Watts Towers since 1959, calling upon his 40 years of professional experience as an engineer. Arloa Paquin Goldstone has been engaged in historic preservation issues in Los Angeles since 1970 and authored the successful proposal to add the Towers to the list of National Historic Landmarks, a distinction awarded in 1990.

    "Contains many fascinating stories about the recently reopened landmark."
    Los Angeles Times

    "A must for anyone interested in environmental art and what one person with will and devotion can achieve!"
    Folk Art Finder

    "Don't miss this passionate probe into an eccentric visionary and his accomplished obsession."
    Flipside Magazine

    "Emblazoned with photos bright, splashy, historical of the staggering, riotous, 100-foot-high creation."
    Buzz Weekly

    120 pages
    8 x 10 inches
    83 color and 41 b/w illustrations
    ISBN 978-0-89236-491-6

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute/J. Paul Getty Museum