Saturday, June 30, 2012
The Pruitt Igoe Myth
I did not remember the details, but understood that it was a massive failure. Since this was a design school, we talked a lot about the failure of the project in architectural terms. I am sure we talked about the failure of the public housing system, but it is not what I remembered.
The Pruitt Igoe Myth is a documentary that is very well made, touching and eye opening. Included in the film are a number of candid interviews with past residents, some who were there from the beginning. Some remember the opening of the place and the joy of moving into their new "poor man's penthouse". When it was fully occupied and there was enough revenue to pay for the maintenance and security it sounded like a great place. It was clean with light and views and places to play.
The decline happened when the industry in St. Louis began to decline and a large number of people left the city for the suburbs. Industry followed these folks to the suburbs and left a hole in downtown St. Louis.
It turns out that the Pruitt Igoe projects, like many others, had to use the rents to pay for maintenance and security. When the residency rate declined, so did the revenues and everything fell apart.
If you think that you know about Pruitt Igoe, then you need to see this.
Here is the trailer on Youtube: