When the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis was being built it was going to be the poster child for how a major city could handle, and help, it’s poorest citizens. Instead, within 20 years, it turned into a haven for crime and within ten more years was nearly abandoned. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth attempts to explain why the project failed.
I first learned about Pruitt-Igoe and The Pruitt-Igoe Myth from 99% Invisible, an excellent radio show and podcast produced by Roman Mars. The show focused on one of the theories out there about the failure of Pruitt-Igoe failing: that the architecture was to blame.
The movie investigates several other reasons as to why Pruitt-Igoe failed, including the booming suburbs, tyrannical rules imposed on the tenants, and a failure to plan for the future. Together they all created a perfect storm that brought down the great experiment. The film also contains interviews with people who lived in the buildings, some who loved it and some who hated it, giving unique insight in to what it was like to live there and what it was like to experience the decay.
It is a fascinating glimpse into a time and society that I am unfamiliar with as well as the total collapse of something that was supposed to change the way we help the poorest of our community.