Cold War & USA
Part A. Pruitt-Igoe “Myth”.
Pruitt-Igoe urban housing complex was a bright example of the failure of a good idea. As planned, Pruitt-Igoe complex was going to be the perfect place to live for an ordinary American citizen, but in reality, it has become death trap. There were several major reasons that lead to such global fiasco. To analyze this fiasco let’s look back to the Pruitt-Igoe background and first days.At the beginning of 20th century St. Luis was a prosperous city. But according to Bristol (p.167), starting from early 1940s there were some major racial issues and overall overpopulation with totally outdated architecture and city infrastructure. To deal with this problem local government and activists decided to make major changes. According to Trancik (p.15), the Pruitt-Igoe apartment complex was designed by famous American architect Minoru Yamasaki, (who also designed World Trade Center, St. Luis Airport and other buildings) to solve several problems at the same time. This complex should create a lot of living space for St. Luis middle class and also change the overall situation with affordable housing. To show the victory over segregation this complex was named after Afro-American military pilot Wendell O. Pruitt and Caucasian US Congressman from Missouri William L. Igoe.
This complex was open in 1954 and was consisted of 31 11-storey residential buildings and over 2870 apartments. But unfortunately, the segregation problem wasn’t over in Missouri, so later almost all Caucasian tenants moved to the different locations, this complex also had major technical and engineering flaws, which forced serious problems for other tenants and local government. In the mid-1960s this complex looks like ghetto, with high crime rates and poor sanitation. The local government tried to deal with these problems until 1970, when Federal government decided to resettle all residents to other places and finally in 1972 they blew up the first building. Over the next two years the other buildings were also demolished and finally in 1976 the whole complex and other infrastructure buildings were totally dismantled.In 2011 film director Chad Freidrichs presented The ”Pruitt-Igoe Myth” documentary that showed the history of this complex, which became a symbol of segregation, failure amongst architects, corrupted politicians and narrow-minded policy makers. This documentary was a unique attempt to show all inside stories around this complex and other economic, social and legislative sides of public housing in USA during the 1940-1980s. Also this documentary showed us the huge racial issue that existed in the USA after the Abolition of slavery by President Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately, the racial issue was one of the main problems in this complex. For example, this documentary shows some reminiscences, when police or emergency ignored calls from Pruitt-Igoe complex due to racial preconception. Later, this complex became a hotbed of crime, drug sales and prostitution. Chad Freidrichs was able to show the viewer the huge weaknesses of post-war town planning and irrelevant political ambitions.As a conclusion, Pruitt-Igoe housing …