The Pruitt-igoe Myth: An Urban History (2012)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Pruitt-igoe Myth: An Urban History Photos

Movie Info

Filmmaker Chad Freidrichs attempts to dispel the myths surrounding St. Louis' Pruitt-Igoe housing project by examining the rise and fall of the once-promising development within a historical context. Constructed in 1956, Pruitt-Igoe offered people who once lived in poverty the change to enjoy modern living in a convenient urban setting. But by the late 1960s Pruitt-Igoe was overrun with crime, and the following decade it was demolished. As a result, Pruitt-Igoe is often cited as an example of both failed Modern Architecture and public planning. By looking a bit deeper and examining the circumstances surrounding the fall of Pruitt-Igoe, however, Freidrichs posits that those who perpetuate these arguments may be missing some crucial components of the big picture.
Documentary , Special Interest
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Jason Henry
as Narrator
Jason Henry
as Narrator
Ruby Russell
as Ruby Russell
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Critic Reviews for The Pruitt-igoe Myth: An Urban History

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (9)

The personal stories told by former residents add a poignancy to the broad trends the film examines.

Full Review… | April 26, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Pruitt-Igoe was the first, and most famous, example of the failure of that sort of public housing.

Full Review… | April 5, 2012
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Using archival footage and interviews with former residents, Freidrichs adds human dimension and historical context to what is often viewed in simple terms as a misguided blip.

Full Review… | March 8, 2012
Washington Post
Top Critic

"The Pruitt-Igoe Myth" doesn't offer easy conclusions.

Full Review… | January 19, 2012
New York Post
Top Critic

In some ways, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is more elegy than analysis.

Full Review… | January 19, 2012
Top Critic

This history is too recent to seem dry, and the film gets an added emotional punch from interviews with former tenants, whose memories mix fondness with anger and loss.

Full Review… | January 19, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Pruitt-igoe Myth: An Urban History

I really liked this documentary. Great for sociology majors! Excellent look into all perspectives on this....lets you get a good perspective on urban sprawl, projects, inner city living, and a great array of personal stories. Sad story but definitely interesting...if you like documentaries....definitely put this on your list!

Dawn ??????
Dawn ??????

Great documentary about what went on in the Pruitt-Igoe projects. The story revealed many of the policy flaws and lack of long-term planning involved in the enormous buildings. I read about them in urban planning school, but it's nice to see them up close in video.

William H.
William H.

I really enjoyed this documentary and how it debunks many of the preconceptions or rash conclusions that some architects, planners, governmental figures, and social scientist come away with when looking at the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex. This documentary correctly explains that the failure here is an individual set of circumstances and that this is a unique problem that does not speak for all public housing or all of modern architecture. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the film is the wide variety of accounts and experiences from the actual Pruitt-Igoe tenants. Surprisingly, not all of them were bad, especially people who were there earlier. This helps to better understand the people who lived there and the real reasons Pruitt-Igoe failed. It goes on to explain how issues of race lead to poor planning and decision-making that hurt the entire city. It shows how damaging the white flight many cities experienced during the Mid-Century suburbanization was, particularly in St Louis. The federal government funded an overbuilt the project expecting continued urban growth when the postindustrial wave hit the city causing St Louis to lose a substantial portion of its population and tax base. Pruitt-Igoe did not have enough tenants to pay rent, the shrinking city had no tax revenue to take care of it and the federal government was hands off after construction. As expected, the building fell into disrepair and became notoriously unsafe. There are many lessons from this painful urban disaster, and this film does a fantastic job brining light to the subject.

Russell Guest
Russell Guest

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