Home of the world famous Watts Towers, the progressive movement in the community of Watts is a continuous energy. The must-see of the area is of course the famous towers designed by Simon Rodia, which is located conveniently to the Watts Towers Arts Center and its amphitheatre
Among its historic landmarks is the Watts Train Station from the 1900s and the artistic creation of Mudtown Flatts depicts historic sites on Central Avenue.
To get to the start of the tour:
Use the Metro Trip Planner
Important Note: Please make sure to always check times and schedules for transportation, destinations and events.
This tour includes the following stops:
103rd St./Kenneth Hahn Station
103rd Street / Kenneth Hahn Station (Blue Line)
Take the Blue Line to the 103rd Street/Kenneth Hahn Metro station.
Before you exit the station, take a second to notice the Metro Art program at the 103rd Street/Kenneth Hahn Metro station along the Blue Line (call 213/626-4455 for Metro information). Metro Art provides an enhanced and moving experience for riders, giving them the opportunity to view murals, sculptures, ceramic tiles and even unique benches, walkways and stairwells. At this station, "Blue Line Totems in Red" by artist Roberto Salas offers a series of bright red totems perforated with old ticket punch shapes used by conductors on the Historic Red Cars.
As you exit the station, check out the historic Watts Train Station (1686 103rd St.). Designated as a National Historic Landmark. This wood frame station showcases construction techniques used in the early 1900s. In the future, the station will house a Train museum, visitor information center and gift shop.
Located directly behind the 103rd Street/Kenneth Hahn Metro station is a path leading to the "Cultural Crescent." This landscaped pedestrian path will lead you to the Watts Towers.
The Watts Towers Arts Center (1727 E. 107th St.; 213/847-4646) provides a diverse selection of programs designed for the cultural enrichment of the Watts community. The Center houses an impressive collection of African sculpture, an extensive ethnic instrument collection, and hosts rotating exhibitions within the Center's gallery space. The Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center offers on-going youth programs and exhibitions.
Directly next door stands an amazing creation, the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia (1765 E. 107th St.; 213/847-4646). For 33 years, Rodia worked to build his towers consisting of nine major sculptures constructed of structural steel and covered with mortar containing a diverse mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, generic pottery and tile. The monument also features a gazebo with a circular bench, three birdbaths, a center column and a spire reaching a height of 38 feet. With over 12,000 visitors per year, be sure to inquire when the next guided tour will be offered.
Located behind the Watts Towers Art Center, the Watts Towers Art Center Amphitheater is a state-of-the-art open-air venue providing a home for the annual Watts Towers Jazz and Drum Festivals, Watts Latino & African American Cinco de Mayo celebration, performances by the Watts Prophets' Youth Poetry Choir, as well as other musical and theatrical events. If you take a closer look, the amphitheater plaza floor depicts a historical timeline of Watts beginning as early as 40 BC. Along the back of the amphitheater, the commemorative walls encircling the plaza celebrate enterprising individuals and organizations that have contributed to the worldwide reputation of Watts.
Lanzit/Central Ave (Watts DASH)
Return to the 103rd Street/Kenneth Hahn Metro station. Directly in front of the station on 103rd Street, catch the Watts DASH heading east toward your next destination. Though a short trip, it will take approximately twenty minutes depending on the number of stops. During your ride, you will pass the Charles Drew Medical University and Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center.
Depart at Lanzit and Central avenues. Walk north on Central Avenue, and immediately to the right you will see the sign, "The Center." Proceed onto the lot.
End your exploration at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) (10950 S. Central Ave.; 323/563-5600). A seven-acre cultural oasis, begin your visit at the magnificent site of the Mother of Humanity®. A bronze sculpture by artist Nijel BPG, this inspirational monument celebrates the contributions of women to civilization and is situated in a beautiful water garden.
Continue your visit at WLCAC at the Ted Watkins Center for Communication. Phoenix Hall provides three unique performance venues, one of which is Tell-It Theater, a 99-seat theater in the round. As you enter, a replica of a slave ship hold depicts the untold horror of the Middle Passage into slavery. Next, take a walk through history on a Mississippi dirt road, revealing the general condition of the Deep South in the early sixties. As you come to the end of the road, doors open to Freedom Hall, which contains the Civil Rights Museum. "Countdown to Eternity," the core of the Civil Rights Museum, is a multi-media exhibit centered on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Finally, moving into Meridian Hall, the Cecil Ferguson Gallery presents rotating exhibitions four times per year, lectures, book signings, and other presentations. Before you leave, stop at the gift shop for cultural books and unique art items produced by local artists.
Exiting from Meridian Hall, Mudtown Flats is a 330-foot façade depicting historic sites on Central Avenue. The backdrop is reminiscent of the bygone era, one that generated the West Coast sounds of jazz and blues. Engine Company No. 30, the Lincoln Theater, the Sommerville Hotel, and the Plantation Night Club are exciting representatives of the rich Central Avenue history.