Watts, residential section of south central Los Angeles. Named after C. H. Watts, a Pasadena realtor, the section became part of Los Angeles in 1926. Artist Simon Rodia's celebrated Watts Towers are there. Historically an impoverished black ghetto, Watts was the site of six days of race riots in 1965 that claimed 34 lives and caused over $200 million in property damage. Race riots again erupted in 1992 after the acquittal of white police officers who beat a black motorist; 58 people died and approximately $1 billion in property was destroyed. The African-American population has declined in recent decades while the area's Hispanic population has grown significantly. In 1990, almost 40% of Watts's residents were living below the poverty line.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.