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Monday, July 30, 2012

Pruitt-Igoe Getting Second Life with Tours, Creative Projects

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 10:20 AM

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Allen, who heads up Pruitt-Igoe Now, launched a design competition to solicit ideas about how the remaining 33 acres can be used. The competition was not sponsored by McKee, who is still trying to come up with more popular uses for the land, or the city-run Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, which actually owns the site.

The winning projects, as judged by various urban planners and academics, are on display at the Old North Saint Louis Restoration Group until August 31.

Here are six surprising factoids we picked up from Allen's tour last week about the place that continues to haunt politicians, architects, city planners, and community organizers.

Most of the rubble piles around Pruitt-Igoe come from the site where the Rams' stadium was built. 
  • Most of the rubble piles around Pruitt-Igoe come from the site where the Rams' stadium was built. 
6. The forest grew from the Rams' landfill

In 1995, as the city set to work on the Edward Jones Dome stadium, they had a tough time figuring out what to do with all that extra debris and concrete that was piling up downtown. Luckily, just two miles away the city had 33 acres of unused land, so they dumped it there.

According to Allen, the Pruitt-Igoe site wasn't forested until after the city began dumping rubble there. Some pin oak trees from the original Pruitt Igoe development are still visible around the site, but the dominant theory now is that seeds were mixed in with the rubble. By some urban miracle those seeds managed to flourish in that awful soil and today the site is wooded like something out of a Brothers Grimm tale.

Sarah and Donnell Phillips in St. Louis Fire Department headquarters, which they knew as the Pruitt-Igoe health clinic where they received vaccinations as kids. Their "One Big Family Pruitt-Igoe" t-shirts come from the annual reunion. 
  • Sarah and Donnell Phillips in St. Louis Fire Department headquarters, which they knew as the Pruitt-Igoe health clinic where they received vaccinations as kids. Their "One Big Family Pruitt-Igoe" t-shirts come from the annual reunion. 
5 . Before video games, everyone knew 'Mama Peg'

Two former residents of the Igoe Apartments were on Allen's tour and saw their childhood home, or the thicket trees where it once stood, for the first time in 40 years. Siblings Sarah and Donnell Phillips said they attend Pruitt-Igoe reunions every year, where they reminisce with old playmates and neighbors.

The Phillipses said that one common misconception about their old home is that it was always a miserable, filthy, crime-ridden project. Not so, says Sarah who remembers living around the corner from her school and right near a community center with a pool, a luxury her own children didn't have years later living in the suburbs.

Donnell says every Pruitt-Igoe kid knew and loved "Mama Peg," a game where kids tried to land an ice pick into a hole facing up. It was a phenomenon across the housing complex for years. "You say 'Mama Peg' and everyone who lived at Pruitt-Igoe knows exactly what you're talking about," said Donnell, one of ten siblings who lived in a double apartment (two bedrooms) on the seventh floor of Building C-15. "I've never seen that game anywhere else."

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