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Professor Robert Fishman and film director Chad Freidrichs of The Pruitt-Igoe Myth discuss public housing at upcoming screening

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Professor Robert Fishman and film director Chad Freidrichs of The Pruitt-Igoe Myth discuss public housing at upcoming screening

Professor of Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning Robert Fishman is a featured historian in the new documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History, directed by Chad Freidrichs. Winner of the 2011 John E. O'Connor Film Award of the American Historical Association for outstanding interpretation of history, the film is scheduled to be screened on Central Campus, March 23, 2012, at 1 pm. A roundtable discussion with Fishman and Freidrichs will follow the screening. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home.

In the documentary, Fishman comments on the path that lead to Pruitt-Igoe and high rise public housing in St. Louis, Missouri in the years after WWII: "The essence of public housing was that public sector could do a better job. People who had been living where they literally never saw the sun, now they would have more magnificent views than the richest people in St. Louis. It enabled the most disadvantaged people in our cities to be liberated from the slums."

Despite its complex history, Pruitt-Igoe has often been stereotyped. The world-famous image of its implosion has helped to perpetuate a myth of failure, a failure that has been used to critique Modernist architecture, attack public assistance programs, and stigmatize public housing residents. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to set the historical record straight, to examine the interests involved in Pruitt-Igoe's creation, to re-evaluate the rumors and the stigma, to implode the myth.

In his review of The Pruitt-Igoe Myth in The New Yorker, Michael Sragow writes "This devastating documentary, about the St. Louis high-rise public-housing development that went from Great Urban Hope to international disgrace, is an engulfing real-life horror story as well as a testimony to the dominance of the image in American public discourse."

For more information on The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: click here.

To read The New Yorker review: click here.

New York Times cultural critic Michael Kimmelman also wrote a review on The Pruitt-Igoe Myth. Click here to read his review.

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