In the early 1900s a man named Abbot Kinney had a dream to create the Venice of America, equipped with canals and an Italian town center. Unfortunately, investors of his day did not share his cosmopolitan spirit and Kinney was forced to cut his project short when he was unable to obtain funding. The canals were the only part of his vision to be realized. Over the years many of them have been drained and filled to accommodate the growing auto industry, and the few that were left fell into disrepair. The canals were renovated in 1992 and modern million dollar homes now line the waterfronts. These are especially beautiful at night, when the canals offer respite from the pounding traffic flowing through surrounding streets.
Sabato ‘Simon’ Rodia was an Italian immigrant who was determined to build an art piece that brought the community together. He began construction in 1921 and, after decades of working by himself, he completed the Watts Towers in 1955. The original triangle shaped lot has since been parceled off into a small park and amphitheater, and only a fraction of his work remains. Three primary towers are still in place, the tallest of which is close to 10 stories. All are adorned with shells and mosaic of all colors of the rainbow. Above all, it is the structural rhythm of the Towers that draws you in. Guided tours are offered Monday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm and on Sunday from 10am to 4pm.