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The Watts Towers in Los Angeles, CA were created with about 45,000 pieces of bottles, glass, mirrors, seashells, broken pottery, and tiles. There are 17 different structures behind the cement wall, including three main towers and six shorter ones. Simon Rodia worked on these structures for 33 years.
Rodia worked without machine equipment and no rivets, bolts or welds were used anywhere. The structures were all spliced together with steel mesh and cement. Rodia did not use scaffolding either and built as he went with no long-term plan. In 1954, at the age of 75, he retired and stopped building. He gave the house, garden and towers to a neighbor and left, moving to Martinez, CA to be near his family. He never returned and died in 1965.
The adjacent house was burned by vandals in 1955 and the City ordered the structures to be demolished in 1958. It was thought they were unsafe. But when jackhammers failed to make a dent and a crane failed to pull down the central tower, they gave up. The Towers were saved in 1959 and are now a National Landmark. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.