"It Was Just Like Beverly Hills"

Memories stir to life each year when residents of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing project reunite

Mayor Francis Slay's spokesman, Ed Rhode, says in a statement that City Hall continues to look for solutions. "There are a number of people who are interested in this land who the mayor has been in contact with personally. This is a very important piece of property, due to its scale and its history, and we want to make sure that the development that finally takes place on the site reflects its importance."


The reunion is peaking at 11:30, and everyone's a little tipsy. The dancers have finished doing the electric slide, and after a brief intermission, the lights are turned up. Master Blaster asks everyone to stand, grab hands and form a circle. The crowd forms two: one around the perimeter and one around the dance floor. It's a reunion ritual.

Former residents watched as the first building was 
imploded. "It was kind of sad to see it go, with all the 
memories when you're little."
Missouri Historical Society
Former residents watched as the first building was imploded. "It was kind of sad to see it go, with all the memories when you're little."
Belle of the ball: Miss Lady Girl takes to the dance floor at the Pruitt-Igoe reunion.
Jennifer Silverberg
Belle of the ball: Miss Lady Girl takes to the dance floor at the Pruitt-Igoe reunion.
Master Blaster: "We want to let them know what it was like, what we've been through, what we've done, what we've succeeded at in our life."
Jennifer Silverberg
Master Blaster: "We want to let them know what it was like, what we've been through, what we've done, what we've succeeded at in our life."
Rose Jones and her husband, Poochie, have fond memories of Pruitt-Igoe but faced appalling racism outside its walls.
Jennifer Silverberg
Rose Jones and her husband, Poochie, have fond memories of Pruitt-Igoe but faced appalling racism outside its walls.
Herman King, who now lives in Richmond Heights, 
misses the community he grew up in: "In suburbia, it's 
just the opposite. I don't even know my neighbors' last 
names."
Jennifer Silverberg
Herman King, who now lives in Richmond Heights, misses the community he grew up in: "In suburbia, it's just the opposite. I don't even know my neighbors' last names."
Former state representative Betty Thompson got her 
start working with Pruitt-Igoe residents: "They'll tell me 
when they see me, 'Miss Thompson, you got me my 
first job.'"
Jennifer Silverberg
Former state representative Betty Thompson got her start working with Pruitt-Igoe residents: "They'll tell me when they see me, 'Miss Thompson, you got me my first job.'"

"We want to let them know what it was like, what we've been through, what we've done, what we've succeeded at in our life," says Master Blaster. "We had a lot of good people that came through the Pruitt-Igoe."

On comes the O'Jays' "Family Reunion," and the people start to sway.

"This is unity coming together," he says into the microphone. "We're all here for one reason. It's because we're a family. We're a family that came together when the projects opened. And this is what it's all about. It's a family, baby."

He pauses as the former residents sing along.

"Put your hands up! Look at the unity around the room. These are the Pruitt-Igoe residents! Let's give it up for Pruitt-Igoe!"

The crowd hollers.

"Here we go again! Look around, baby, look around. This is family. Yes! It's been a long time, but guess what? We came together today as one!"

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