Pruit-Igoe, Experimental Film, Music and Socialism

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance is a 1982 experimental film that features the music of Philip Glass. His music was fairly radical in the 1980s, but lately I’ve been hearing echoes of some of his work in popular music. (At least the music I listen to.)

This is “Pruit-Igoe” from the soundtrack of Koyaanisqatsi The video – also from the movie – is mostly of the destruction of the Pruit-Igoe public-housing projects in Saint Louis, MO. Socialism has been on my mind recently – due mainly to stuff in my social-media feed. And this video I think sums up the legacy of socialism in America. (More thoughts after the video).

The ugliness of the architecture, known as Brutalism. You can almost see the dream. Parks. Playgrounds. But the dream didn’t become reality.

The Wendell O. Pruitt Homes and William Igoe Apartments (Pruit-Igoe) were completed in 1956, saw its peak occupancy in 1957 and immediately started to decline. The project was demolished over several years in the mid 1970s. It looks like the apartment blocks you would find in a Warsaw Pact Country. (If the Warsaw Pact still existed.) And for good reason. It was created by the same mindset. It is architecture designed by a government committee.

When you see a picture of the entire complex – it took up 57 acres – it is hard to fathom how anyone could think this would be a good idea. But then nothing is so impervious to suggestion that they might want to consider a different path than a .gov bureaucracy. Why would you think warehousing people is a good idea? (I would embed the photo here, but WP is still being a bit wonky about images.)


2 thoughts on “Pruit-Igoe, Experimental Film, Music and Socialism

  1. what you do not realize it that this was done on purpose. In NY when Robert Moses planned the highways out to the beaches on Long Island he made them parkway with low overpasses so that buses could not use them. This prevented the poor from using those beaches reserving them for those who could afford a car. NYC had many of these housing projects that just herded the poor and some lower middle class into an area that could be control by a large police presence. That turned out to be wrong in that the presence was no way large enough


    • I stand by my statement. Only a .gov bureaucrat (in love with his own ideas) would think this is a good idea – whatever the motivation.

      And .gov bureaucrats continued to build these things – if not on the scale of Pruit-Igoe – long after it was clear they were a disaster. Because socialism is not a self-correcting system. It has to run itself completely off the cliff, there is no way to apply the breaks. It’s the market that responds to reality.


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