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Review: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

On the sabotage of the American dream
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  April 3, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars

The Pruitt-Igoe projects in St. Louis were supposed to be a means for poor farmers and field workers to find big-city opportunities. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is the story of how that federally subsidized dream was sabotaged, and how America abandoned its most vulnerable citizens in modern tenements and stacked the deck against them (most egregiously, able-bodied men were not permitted to live with their families in the housing complex). Like other massive housing efforts, Pruitt-Igoe was sold on its nice, clean newness — 33 11-story post-war monstrosities with a beautiful river view. Then came the nightmare of "urban renewal," complete with middle-class exodus and a devastating lack of employment. Director Chad Freidrichs presents his doc like a horror pic. People move in and celebrate, only to endure a living hell until the St. Louis Housing Authority demolishes the eyesore in the mid-'70s. The approach works: Myth convinces that St. Louis failed Pruitt-Igoe, and not the other way around.

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