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March 16, 2014

Grayson Lake

I watched a good documentary on Netflix about the rise and fall of an inner city housing project in St Louis, called The Pruitt-Igoe Myth.  Though it surely wouldn't be to the taste of everyone, I found it very interesting from the standpoint of architecture, human interest of our struggles, and vintage black and white photography (and some early video footage) of both of these.  It is a captivating story of the life of a project and how so many things come to interact in a way that either can either enhance or destroy the whole concept.

The project and the people are detailed from the beginning to end:  from the start with a large vacant field, to the building of a group of high rise structures that in the beginning was called paradise, then all the way up to present day where it is again a vacant field.  The movie contains a lot of on-camera interviews with former residents who are very good speakers, those who can speak from the heart with conviction and without stammer.  Some had the most terrible experiences and others still say it was the best time of their life.  One of them said it taught him empathy and that struck a cord.  I think many of us have not learned empathy, especially concerning the downtrodden of this country.

 Here is a link to a fine black and white photograph of one of the building implosions at the end of the project.

A link to the website that has the movie trailer.

A link to an article on the American Institute of Architects website.