The Watts Towers

I love being an artist!  But if I wasn’t doing this, I think I might be a travel agent, because I also love telling folks where to find the next attraction!  And not many travel agents would send you to Watts, a part of Los Angeles that is famous for it’s violent gang activity, but it’s amazing where you can find beauty if you’re looking for it!

Watts Towers with Natasha

To my surprise, my girlfriend Natasha – a Los Angeles native, had never seen the Watts Towers.  I saw them years ago with my then roommate Mark.  As you can see, they are very ornate and intricate.  But on closer inspection, you can see that they are decorated with TRASH!!  It’s amazing!

Hearts  Built from 1921 – 1955 by an Italian cement worker named Simon Rodia.  When Rodia finally finished his masterpiece 34 years after embarking on this project, he simply gave it to his neighbor and moved away – never to return!

Watts Towers looking up


In Rodia’s absence, the towers fell into disrepair and in 1957 the order came down that the towers were to be demolished as they were deemed an eyesore.  However, that order couldn’t be carried out because the new owner of the towers couldn’t be located.

Statue with Watts Towers in Background

Then in 1959 William Cartwright and Nicholas King discovered the towers and saw the beauty in them so began a campaign to save the towers.  They ultimately bought the property and in 1975 donated it to the City of Los Angeles, who consequently turned it over to the California State Parks service in 1978, and in 1990 the Watts Towers achieved National Historic landmark status!!


Watts Towers in Silhouette

So the moral to this story is, there is always beauty and value to be found – even among the “junk” and “dark places” of your world.  But it takes a visionary spirit, like Rodia, to see the beauty there!  And tenacity, like the 20 year effort of Cartwright and King, to get the rest of the world to see the beauty there as well.

But you already knew that with vision and tenacity…

All Things are Possible!


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Comments (11)

  1. Electrified in the ghetto

    Dang–seems like these towers could not only be “art”, but utilizing lightning strikes, produce all the electricity southern California should need! What about that solar energy bit on “Cosmos”? So WHY do we continue to pollute our planet with fossil fuels and billions of tons of carbon dioxide?????….L.B.

    • Susan Parcheta

      Lane, just happened to finally check in here tonight. Good to hear your environmental voice :). Hope all’s well. And I have to say this is my kind of topic… seeing beauty where others may not. And sending my gratitude for the vision and tenacity of CS to keep this forum going and the ATP theme that we all love. Happy summer to everyone. Sue P.

  2. I’ve been to LA several times and have never seen the Watts Towers. I didn’t realize that they had been around so long, for some reason I thought they were created in the 1970s! Thanks for posting the pictures and history Chris.

  3. Alex

    Very well said, Lane; thanks for your words! And thanks Chris for sharing with us this story and these photos. Take care everyone.

  4. Tim

    “there is always beauty and value to be found – even among the “junk” and “dark places” of your world.”

    The thought of my basement being declared a historical landmark….who would have thought!


    • ChristopherShowerman

      HAHAHAHA!!! And to think you could have been charging an admission this whole time Tim!!

  5. Tim

    Hey Chris, Happy Birthday!

  6. Alex

    Have a fantastic ATP Birthday, Chris!!!

    Hope all is well; take care!

    • ChristopherShowerman

      Thank You Alex!! All is very well – I truly appreciate your birthday wish! THANKS!!


  7. BetterLateThanNever

    Dangit, fergot agin that yer B-day is the same as Little Bighorn Eve! Of course I always celebrate Little Bighorn Day(when one of the great jerks in American history got exactly what was coming to him–just my opinion) with some category of ICE CREAM–this year was a box of Blue Bunny chocolate lovers ice cream sandwiches! Quite suitable for B-day celebrations too, I might add. Even if not traditional Lakota or Cheyenne(or even Arapahoe) fare. Anyway, HAPPY BIRTH DAY!!!!….L.B.