The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History | Chicago Reader

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History

Completed in 1954 and demolished in 1972, the 33-building Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis has been used to support diverse social theories—that government funding is bad; that modernist architecture fails; that poor blacks are irresponsible—all of which are debunked in this affecting documentary by Chad Freidrichs. The city's population peaked at the time the project was completed, and St. Louis quickly emptied out as whites fled to the suburbs; as the project's maintenance funding declined, elevators stopped working and it became a crime-infested ruin (which some residents still remember with great fondness). The opening, which shows the mix of forest and rubble where the homes once stood, is especially poetic, its empty spaces later filled in for the viewer with archival footage of the project, lovely initially but gutted in its later years.

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