The Oxford Film Festival is this weekend! A lot of the films look great though one that stands out is The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History.
Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project was a St. Louis high-rise urban housing complex completed in the mid-1950’s. It was named for St. Louisans Wendell O. Pruitt, a Tuskegee Airman, and William L. Igoe, a former U.S. Congressman. The 33 eleven-story buildings were designed by the firm of Leinweber, Yamasaki & Hellmuthwere, and represented the first major commission for Minoru Yamasaki, who would later go on to design the New York World Trade Center. The housing development garnered much praise when new but by the late 1960’s the Federal Department of Housing was urging residents to leave and by 1971 decided to demolish the complex.
While no such major urban renewal housing project existed in Mississippi to my knowledge, we can see many of the same principles applied to smaller scale urban renewal attempts from the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s in our state. Pruitt-Igoe is a case study for a plethora of topics not limited to: Architecture, Housing, Race Relations, White Flight, Segregation, Urban Renewal, Federal Spending, Crime, Poverty, and of course Preservation.
How did something that seemed to be the solution to so many problems end up compounding into something so much worse? Is it fair to blame so much of the failure on the Architecture of the complex? As Preservationists, would we have fought to save the neighborhoods that were demolished to make way for Pruitt-Igoe, and then fought for the complex’s preservation when it faced demolition? Would investment in the older neighborhoods have been more successful than wholesale renewal? While I know these answers are never easy to determine, hopefully the film can shed some light on the conversation.
It has two showing times 4:00PM on Friday and 12:45PM on Saturday. If any one is attending the Oxford Film Festival this weekend I would encourage you to see this film and hopefully share your comments here on MissPres.
Learn more about The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History at http://www.pruitt-igoe.com/
Learn more about The Oxford Film Festival at: http://www.oxfordfilmfest.com/