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Watts Towers

October 08, 2000

* Re "Restoring a Sight of Wonder," Oct. 1: Long before they were almost destroyed by the '94 earthquake, the Watts Towers were condemned by the city building department. In the late '70s the city declared the towers a hazard to public safety, having insufficient resistance to lateral (earthquake) and vertical (gravity) forces, and ordered them destroyed. Fortunately, before the death sentence could be carried out, there were enough objections by a few structural engineers who could see beyond the ends of their sliderules, forcing the city to allow physical testing of the towers. The tests proved conclusively that the towers had several times the strength required and provided the ultimate tribute to the genius of Simon Rodia.

MAX W. STRAUSS

Los Angeles

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