• The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History
    Chad Freidrichs

Photographer Unknown, family moves in to Pruitt-Igoe, 1950s, St. Louis, MO. Courtesy of Missouri History Museum.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the wholesale changes that took place in the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development in St. Louis. Destroyed in a dramatic and highly publicized implosion, the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex has become a widespread symbol of failure amongst architects, politicians, and policy makers. At the film's historical center is an analysis of the massive impact of the 1949 Housing Act, which resulted in American cities being emptied of their residents, business and industry. And yet, despite its complex history, Pruitt-Igoe has often been stereotyped, with help from a world-famous image of its implosion, and used as an argument against modernist architecture or public assistance programs. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to set the historical record straight, to examine the interests in Pruitt-Igoe's creation, to re-evaluate the rumors and the stigma, and to implode the myth.

Chad Freidrichs has produced and directed two feature-length documentary films through his production company Unicorn Stencil Documentary Films. The first Jandek on Corwood (2003), documented the mystery and cult following of an underground musician. Its second film First Impersonator (2006), followed presidential look-alikes as they navigated the 2004 election and chronicled the rise and fall of famed John F. Kennedy impersonator Vaughn Meader. Freidrichs's films have screened at fifty film festivals including South by Southwest and Silverdocs, and played in seventy-five cities. In addition to making documentary films, he is on the faculty of Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where he teaches courses in advanced film production and film criticism. He has also made numerous corporate videos and more than 1,000 commercials.