Watts Towers: A High Note on the Blue Line

Mosaic of tile and found objects covers the Watts Towers.

Mosaic of tile and found objects covers the Watts Towers.

Discover LA by Metro:

Architecture and Art Off the Blue Line Metro Rail

A week ago, we traversed Manhattan via subway from Grand Central Station to Inwood, at the northwestern end of the island. Hopping on the Blue Line gives us a similar, very urban/cosmopolitan feeling. As Los Angeles County’s oldest Metro rail line — it opened July 14, 1990 — the Blue Line’s vibe echoes those of its older, Eastern cousins. However, its route gives it a true LA rhythm.

The line stretches 22 miles (only a half mile underground) through the center of LA, from Downtown to Long Beach. Passing through industrial and modest residential neighborhoods that aren’t on tourist itineraries, its highlights en route include Staples Center/LA Live/LA Convention Center, LA Trade Tech College, and Watts Towers.

A guitar player entertains the passengers on the Blue Line Metro.

A musician performs for tips on the Blue Line.

With hawkers and musicians, panhandlers and preachers joining families, business people, tourists and students, this journey is certainly equal in interest to the destination.

And our destination of this day is iconic: Watts Towers, one man’s artistic contribution to the LA skyline that recalls those of Gaudi in Barcelona. Who says LA isn’t a world city?

Italian immigrant Simon Rodia, who (conveniently for his scrap material sources) worked at a tile manufacturer and lived near a railroad line, created his sculpture from found materials over

A spire of the Watts Towers

Made of scrap material, the Watts Towers are truly greater than the sum of their parts.

a period of 33 years, from 1921 to 1954. After Rodia abandoned his work, the towers had a checkered history, but they are now being preserved and are part of a State Historical Park.

The stark outline of the towers can be seen clearly from the train, and the seven-block walk is flat and easy. From the 103rd Street station platform, exit on the north end and turn right on 103rd Street; go one block to Graham, turn right to Santa Ana Blvd., and walk through the park to the towers at 107th Street.

While the towers can be clearly viewed at any daylight hour, guided tours offer lots of information as well as close-up views. Tours leave from the Watts Towers Arts Center and Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center — it’s adjacent to the towers. This light-filled, airy space offers a wonderfully interesting selection of programs and exhibits.

A family visits the gallery at the Watts Towers Arts Center,

Watts Towers Arts Center

Art Center Hours:
Wednesday – Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm
Sunday: noon – 4 pm.

Admission is free.

Watts Towers Hours (Guided tours on the half hour):
Thursday: 10:30 am – 3 pm
Friday: 11 am – 3 pm
Saturday: 10:30 am – 3 pm
Sunday: 12:30 pm – 3 pm

General Admission: $7.00

Seniors and Young Adults (13-17): $3.00

Children 12 and Under (accompanied by an adult): Free

More information:



Take the Metro Blue Line to the 103rd Street station. Exit on the north end of the platform and turn right on 103rd Street; go one block to Graham, turn right to Santa Ana Blvd. and walk through the park to the towers at 107th Street.

walking map to towers from 103rd street station

It is an easy walk to the towers from the Metro station. Click on map to enlarge.

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About Metro Duo

Helping Los Angeles visitors and residents find events and activities accessible by Metro Rail — see our blog: https://metroduo.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, LA Metro, Light Rail, Los Angeles Metro -- light rail/subway, Public Transportation, Transportation and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Watts Towers: A High Note on the Blue Line

  1. metroduo says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

    This blog is the teaser for our new website which we will be launching in the spring — LAbyMetro. The site will contain all the line maps — interactive so that you can click on the station of interest and see the sights there — as well as links to all the Metro system maps and time tables.

    We found no problems visiting Watts Towers — the neighborhood is well kept and the walk is flat and easy.

    We also enjoyed the art center. Here’s more info. on the center: http://calartscap.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/cap-partner-profile-rosie-lee-hooks-and-the-watts-towers-arts-center/

  2. Steve Henigson says:

    Nice site! Useful, I think, for the next time we visit.
    There’s one thing I miss: Can you add a link to the entire Metro system map? Or maybe include a copy of the most current Metro system map somewhere within your Blog?

    When the Blue Line was brand-new, I used it to re-visit the Watts Towers. Everybody I met told me not to get off the Metro in Watts. “You’ll be killed,” they said. But, of course, I went anyway. I got a few hard looks, but I always say “Hello!” to—and smile at—everybody I pass, and that got me lots of really friendly responses. No worries, mate.

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