A look back: Pruitt and Igoe started strong, but in the end failed
ST. LOUIS %C3%A2%C2%80%C2%A2 During World War II, the crowded city's 860,000 residents included many newcomers who found jobs in defense plants and housing in grim 19th-century tenements. War's end ignited demand for better places to live. Those with a few dollars rushed to the suburbs. For the poor, government leaders had a vision of high-rise apartments neatly arranged in tight rows.
The biggest here was Pruitt Homes, named after Wendell O. Pruitt, a fighter pilot and Sumner High alumnus who died in an aircraft training crash in 1945. Next door was Igoe Homes, honoring William L. Igoe, who grew up in the neighborhood and went to Congress. In 1952, bulldozers smashed 20 blocks of slums near Jefferson and Cass avenues, northwest of downtown.
"These two projects are tangible evidence of progress in the continuing war against slums and decay," said Mayor Joseph M. Darst. "St. Louisans can point to their city as a model of modern development."
Pruitt housed blacks. Igoe, heralded as the city's first integrated public housing, opened on July 23, 1955, accepting four white and three black families. Construction continued as more families moved in from fast-disappearing slums.
At $36 million to build, Pruitt and Igoe comprised 33 11-story buildings and 2,868 apartments. Monthly rent began at $20. The Post-Dispatch wrote of the "bright new apartments with modern conveniences." Some families enjoyed their first indoor toilets. (Story continues at link)