Simon Rodia

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Sabato Rodia
Born(1879-02-12)February 12, 1879
DiedJuly 17, 1965(1965-07-17) (aged 86)
Other namesSimon Rodia, Sam Rodia, Simon Rodilla, Sam Rodilla, Simon Radilla, Sam Radilla, Sabatino Rodia, Don Simon [1]
Known forWatts Towers

Sabato "Simon" Rodia[2] (February 12, 1879 – July 17, 1965) was an Italian-American artist who created the Watts Towers, or, as he called them, Nuestro Pueblo (Our Town, in Spanish), a Los Angeles landmark.


Simon Rodia's Watts Towers

Rodia was born and raised in Serino, Italy.[3][4] In 1895, aged fifteen, he emigrated to the United States with his brother.[5] Rodia lived in Pennsylvania until his brother died in a mining incident. He then moved to Seattle, Washington, where he married Lucia Ucci in 1902. They soon moved to Oakland, where Rodia's three children were born. Following his divorce circa 1909, he moved to Long Beach and worked at odd jobs before finally settling in Watts in 1920.[6]

Rodia began constructing the Watts Towers in 1921, but did not complete them until 1954. They were frequently vandalized by neighbors and Rodia gave this as the reason he moved to Martinez later that same year, where he remained for the next eleven years until his death in 1965.[6][7]Rodia never returned to Watts after moving to Martinez.[7]


A photograph of Simon Rodia is included on the cover of the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released in 1967. The public Simon Rodia Continuation High School in Watts is named for him. In the Dark Skies episode "Burn, Baby, Burn", Rodia is depicted as being inspired by an alien encounter. Later in the episode, the towers serve as a plot device. Also, this work by Rodia briefly appears in the "Six Feet Under" episode "Nobody Sleeps". It also appeared in the 1988 film Colors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goldstone, Bud; Goldstone, Arloa Paquin (1997). The Los Angeles Watts Towers. Los Angeles: Getty Publications. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0-89236-491-6.
  2. ^ There has been some question as to what Rodia was called during his lifetime; some sources have cited that his birth name was "Sabatino" and it is disputed as to if he was called "Simon" during his lifetime. It is widely known and accepted that he was referred to as "Sam" by close friends, and he appears in the U.S. Census returns as Samuel Rodia. His surname has also been misspelled as "Rodella" or "Rodilla".[citation needed]
  3. ^ About Sam Rodia - The Watts Towers — official site
  4. ^ The Social Security Death Index uses 15 April 1886. Other reference works use 1873, 1875, and 1879.
  5. ^ US Census 25 April 1910, Oakland, California, supervisors District 3, enumerators district 21, sheet 16
  6. ^ a b Big Orange Landmarks -- No. 15 - Towers of Simon Rodia.
  7. ^ a b "From the Archives: Simon Rodia, 90, Builder of Famed Watts Towers, Dies in Martinez". Los Angeles Times (Originally published in 1965 in printed newspaper form only. This digitized copy was created at an unspecified but much later date by the original publisher (the Los Angeles Times).). July 19, 1965. Retrieved November 8, 2020.

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