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.
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 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.
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
Seniors and Young Adults (13-17): $3.00
Children 12 and Under (accompanied by an adult): Free
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.