The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (3200 Darnell St, Fort Worth, TX, in the museum district) is showing the documentary film "The Pruitt Iago Myth" on March 7. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are free, but on a first-come, first-served basis. The film begins at 7:00 p.m.
Here's an experiment: Type "Public Housing Demolition" into Google, and it will auto-complete with "New Orleans". "Atlanta". "Chicago". (It seems that top-down, centrally planned public housing projects generally face the wrecking ball after 20-25 years.)
Type "Public Housing Implosion" into Google, and your computer won't even think twice. It will take you to the infamous St. Louis Pruitt-Iago Public Housing complex.
Here's what Alexander Von Hoffman of Harvard had to say about Pruitt-Iago:
"St. Louis's Pruitt-Igoe housing project is arguably the most infamous public housing project ever built in the United States. A product of the postwar federal public-housing program, this mammoth high-rise development was completed in 1956.
Only a few years later, disrepair, vandalism, and crime plagued Pruitt-Igoe. The project's recreational galleries and skip-stop elevators, once heralded as architectural innovations, had become nuisances and danger zones. Large numbers of vacancies indicated that even poor people preferred to live anywhere but Pruitt-Igoe. In 1972, after spending more than $5 million in vain to cure the problems at Pruitt-Igoe, the St. Louis Housing Authority, in a highly publicized event, demolished three of the high-rise buildings. A year later, in concert with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it declared Pruitt-Igoe unsalvageable and razed the remaining buildings.
Pruitt-Igoe has lived on symbolically as an icon of failure. Liberals perceive it as exemplifying the government's appalling treatment of the poor. Architectural critics cite it as proof of the failure of high-rise public housing for families with children. One critic even asserted that its destruction signaled the end of the modern style of architecture."
And yet, the makers of this documentary, and perhaps the city of Fort Worth (official sponsors of this showing !) claim that we shouldn't try to learn too much from this supposedly failed experiment. Here's some more info from the documentary's official website:
"And yet, despite this 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, (and) attack public assistance programs..... 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."
Let's attend this showing and learn for ourselves if the stories of the Pruitt-Igoe meltdown are lies, legends, or merely a case of bad luck for city bureaucrats. The City Of Fort Worth's Human Relations Unit will hold a Q&A session afterwards.
Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it. March 7th, at The Modern. Show up at 6:30.