The Rise and Fall St. Louis’ Notorious Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project

St. Louis’ notorious Pruitt-Igoe housing project is memorialized in a documentary that will premier this weekend at the Oxford, Mississippi Film Festival.

The documentary explores the famous housing project’s celebrated beginnings and spectacular unraveling, set against the background of a city following a similar trajectory.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History – Film Trailer from the Pruitt-Igoe Myth on Vimeo.

A few words from the creators:

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home.

At the film’s historical center is an analysis of the massive impact of the national urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the process of mass suburbanization and emptied American cities of their residents, businesses, and industries.

Those left behind in the city faced a destitute, rapidly de-industrializing St. Louis , parceled out to downtown interests and increasingly segregated by class and race.

The residents of Pruitt-Igoe were among the hardest hit. Their gripping stories of survival, adaptation, and success are at the emotional heart of the film. The domestic turmoil wrought by punitive public welfare policies; the frustrating interactions with a paternalistic and cash-strapped Housing Authority; and the downward spiral of vacancy, vandalism and crime led to resident protest and action during the 1969 Rent Strike, the first in the history of public housing.

Thanks for the heads up, favorite St. Louis resident Randy Vines!

-A.S.

3 Comments

Filed under architecture, Urban Planning

3 responses to “The Rise and Fall St. Louis’ Notorious Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project

  1. Special K

    I heard all about this housing complex on a recent trip to the great city of St. Louis. I really want to see this movie, I hope it comes to Pittsburgh. Or, failing that, eventually Netflix!

  2. Sarah Hartley

    Fascinating! A well-intentioned experiment. I hope it comes to the Cleveland Film Fest.

  3. MWBrown

    Public housing as conceived and executed was destined to fail and that failure is better for everyone.

    These “districts” were homogenous, static and dreary. Consider Jane Jacob’s exposition on the North End of Boston in the late 40’s and early 50’s for solutions to blighted neighborhoods.

    Density, fine-granularity and diversity are what any healthy place needs and public housing was designed to expunge all of these.

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