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Finding Aid for the Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts Records
1388  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Towers in the Watts area of Los Angeles, nine major sculptures of structural steel covered with mortar, were built by Simon Rodia. He called the towers “Nuestro Pueblo,” and built them without the use of machine equipment or scaffolding. In 1954, Rodia deeded his property to a neighbor, and after the Los Angeles City Department of Building and Safety ordered the structure demolished, The Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts collected signatures and money, and devised an engineering test that proved the Towers' safety (1959). In 1975, the Committee gave the Towers to the city, and in 1978 they were deeded to the state, which undertook restoration work. In 1985, restoration responsibilities were given to the Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Department, and the Towers are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The collection contains materials generated by the Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts relating to the effort to save the Towers, a selected bibliography of articles about the Towers, photographs and pictures, legal documents, audiotapes, films, slides, videotape, transcripts of interviews with Simon Rodia and others, and material regarding the Watts riots and the community response to the Towers.
Background
The Towers built in the Watts area of Los Angeles, nine major sculptures of structural steel covered with mortar, are the work of one person, Simon Rodia; born Sabato Rodia in Rivatoli, Italy in 1879, his family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1890s and settled in Pennsylvania, and Rodia found work in rock quarries and as a tile setter after moving to the West Coast; purchased property in 1921 and by himself began building what he called Nuestro Pueblo, without the use of machine equipment or scaffolding; in 1954 Rodia deeded his property to a neighbor, and after the Los Angeles City Department of Building and Safety ordered the structure demolished, The Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts collected signatures and money, devising an engineering test that proved the Towers' safety in 1959; in 1975 the Committee gave the Towers to the city, and in 1978 they were deeded to the state, which undertook restoration work; in 1985 restoration responsibilities were given to the Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Department; the Towers are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and are the location of cultural programs.
Extent
25 boxes (11 linear ft.) 7 oversize boxes
Restrictions
Copyright to portions of this collection has been assigned to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. The library can grant permission to publish for materials to which it holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or quote must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian, Department of Special Collections.] Credit shall be given as follows: [c in circle] The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections.
Availability
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.