The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

4 Oct

Valerie Sills, interviewee and former resident of Pruitt-Igoe. Photo by Evie Hemphill.

Washington University’s Film and Media Archive and the George Warren Brown School of Social Work co-sponsored a screening of the award-winning documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, followed by a panel discussion, on September 15, 2011. Screenings of the film have been very popular and over 600 people attended the event.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, directed by Chad Freidrichs, takes a new look at the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex. The Film and Media Archive and University Archives provided archival assistance to the filmmakers.

A synopsis of the film from the filmmaker’s website:

“It began as a housing marvel. Two decades later, it ended in rubble. But what happened to those caught in between?”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 residents of the notorious Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St. Louis.”

This film looks at the hopeful beginnings of Pruitt-Igoe, follows the history through to the implosion of the buildings, and then revisits the site today showing an overgrown area of urban wilderness. The interviewees, including several former residents of Pruitt-Igoe, recount their stories giving a vivid picture of what it was like to live in the housing complex. The film also expands beyond Pruitt-Igoe to show the transformation of urban American after World War II.

For more photos from this event, please see our Facebook page.

Before the screening of "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, Washington University, Graham Chapel. Photo by Evie Hemphill.

Panel discussion after the screening of "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth." From left to right: Edward F. Lawlor, Dean of Social Work. Valerie Sills, interviewee and former resident of Pruitt-Igoe. Bob Hansman, Associate Professor, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Michael Willis, Founder and President, Michael Willis Architects. Jack Kirkland, Associate Professor, Brown School. Photo by Alison Carrick.

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