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Destroyed in a dramatic and highly-publicized implosion, the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex has become a widespread symbol of failure amongst architects, politicians and policy makers. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth explores the social, economic and legislative issues that led to the decline of conventional public housing in America, and the city centers in which they resided, while tracing the personal and poignant narratives of several of the project's residents. In the post-War years, the American city changed in ways that made it unrecognizable from a generation earlier, privileging some and leaving others in its wake. The next time the city changes, remember Pruitt-Igoe. Written by
Excellent look at a controversial historical topic
The Pruitt-Igoe housing projects are currently remembered as one of the worst disasters in federal housing history. There has been ample debate among academics as to why, ranging from architectural problems to poor planning to demographic shifts in the city of St. Louis. This new documentary mostly looks at the latter two ideas and does not interview architects but rather former residents of the projects. Their stories vary from uplifting to tragic and detail the many problems with Pruitt-Igoe. Mostly the film suggests that the depopulation of the city following the explosion of suburban society in the 1950s is to blame for the project's failure. With fewer people there was less of a need for the massive buildings and with a smaller tax base it was impossible to maintain the expensive structures. What the film does show is that most of the people who lived there were decent folks hoping to make a new life, and that it was mostly the outside world that undermined the projects. The director uses several excellent shots including the image of the collapsing towers (they were demolished in the 1970s). Overall he does a superb job of telling a very intriguing and moving story while stimulating a debate on the future of federal housing.
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