Pruitt-Igoe | St. Louis Public Radio

Pruitt-Igoe

Piles of concrete and brick line a fence separating the former Pruitt-Igoe housing development from the Gateway school complex. Parents and staff at the school say placing the rubble there stirred levels of dust high enough to sicken students and teachers
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Health problems at a north St. Louis school have gotten the attention of federal officials.

That’s after many parents and teachers blamed respiratory problems on dust from debris brought near their school from the site of the new headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

NGA Director Robert Cardillo and Mayor Lyda Krewson spoke Thursday and discussed the handling of the debris.

Cenya Davis puffs on her inhaler earlier this month. The 8-year-old student at Gateway Elementary School in St. Louis has been to the hospital three times for breathing trouble starting in December. She now regularly uses the inhaler.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Original story from 06/14/18; updated with audio from St. Louis on the Air segment on 06/15/18.

A school nurse told St. Louis health officials in February about students under the nurse’s care hospitalized by asthma attacks and teachers forced to stay home with respiratory illnesses, but neither the school district nor the health department warned those afflicted about a possible connection in their ailments.

It was not until a St. Louis Public Radio investigation published last month that some parents and staff of the Gateway school complex said they first learned the respiratory illnesses may have been caused by dirt and dust kicked up by nearby demolition work funded and overseen by the city.

Piles of concrete and brick line a fence separating the former Pruitt-Igoe housing development from the Gateway school complex. Parents and staff at the school say placing the rubble there stirred levels of dust high enough to sicken students and teachers
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

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Demolition and excavation work for a new federal intelligence agency headquarters in north St. Louis received environmental scrutiny and regulation that officials said is “above and beyond” what’s required.

When some of that demolition material from the site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s West headquarters was moved across the street, and next to a public school, little if any monitoring occurred. Parents and staff at the Gateway school complex on North Jefferson Avenue, point to the 30-foot piles of rubble they say brought high levels of dust and caused breathing problems and other ailments at the school over several months.

Parents and staff blame illnesses inside the Gateway school complex on debris brought over from the site of the planned National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters. The piles tower over a fence next to the school. May 6, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Isaiah Carson was happy and healthy on an early April afternoon as he worked on spelling with his dad at the family’s kitchen table.

That wasn’t the case a few months earlier when he started having trouble breathing. He was wheezing and had a shallow cough.

Isaiah, who’s 5, would lie in bed with his parents at night, unable to sleep. His father, Michael Carson, felt helpless. “He scared me to death,” Carson said.

(courtesy M Properties)

Northside Regeneration’s plans for the old Pruitt-Igoe site became public this week, including a $72 million complex of medical buildings, commercial and office space and two hotels.

Developer Paul McKee’s company bought the 34-acre site from the city for $1 million last summer. Northside Regeneration had held the option for several years, and McKee previously received state approval to build a three-bed urgent care facility within the former federal housing site.

Grace Baptist Church, on Cass Avenue, as seen from the site of the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee has held a $1 million option to buy the former Pruitt-Igoe site from the city of St. Louis for three years.

That option was set to expire later this month.

But the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority extended McKee’s option for the second time in three years during a closed meeting. It was part of an agreement the city made with McKee to buy land he owns within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on St. Louis’ north side.

The dark red cylinder in the background is the 'hydraulic actuator' that moved a large steel box.The large red tube in front is the 'hydraulic accumulator' that supplied surge flows of oil, and absorbed the hydraulic pressure surges.
Provided by Jim Vosper

When I talked to Elaine Gregory McCluskey recently at her office at Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., and explained I was working on a story about engineering experiments at the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in the 1970s, she was bewildered. Why, why was I writing about Pruitt Igoe almost four decades after the place had been obliterated?

The last streetlight in Pruitt-Igoe.
pruittigoenow.org

Going into the inner city and taking a hike through the abandoned Pruitt-Igoe public housing site could be regarded as a lark, but once the hike is finished, a visitor realizes it is considerably more than that. Pruitt-Igoe is forbidden fruit, but going in is all the more delicious because one is not supposed to be there. Plus, from the outside it looks dangerous, and that quality makes adventure even more appealing. Beyond those easily transgressed wires stretched across old, worn down streets, there is a place of rare beauty and of serenity.

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of 2014.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee unveiled plans Wednesday for an urgent care facility on the north side of St. Louis, but questions at the press event turned to the lack of infrastructure projects in McKee's massive, 1,500 acre redevelopment area.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

Updated at 6:14 a.m. Nov. 3 with statement from Sen. Claire McCaskill. 

A top Army official says that Cold War chemical weapons testing in St. Louis did not pose a health risk to residents in the test areas.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Army sprayed a chemical called zinc cadmium sulfide in low-income areas of St. Louis that were predominantly African American.

McCormack Baron Salazar

Over the past four decades Richard Baron has made a name for himself as a pioneering developer of blighted urban neighborhoods.  Baron’s firm, McCormack Baron Salazar has completed scores of projects in St. Louis and across the Midwest.  As a native of Detroit, Mich., Baron came to Missouri in the late 1960s. 

St. Louis Public Radio’s Adam Allington sat down with Baron at a housing conference of the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he asked him to elaborate on some of the development challenges—and similarities—between Detroit and St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 12, 2012 - Exactly 40 years after the first building of St. Louis' Pruitt-Igoe housing projects was demolished, a group of designers, historians and other professionals is pulling together ideas about how to use the 57 acres where the failed development once stood.

This article first appeared n the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 10, 2012 - St. Louisans once looked at Spanish Lake as a symbol for what was great about living in the suburbs. The community, comprised mostly of white, middle-class working families, had the perfect scenic location by the river and Fort Bellefontaine. It offered its citizens a chance to have a nice home and raise a family near playgrounds, parks and lakes while also being near the malls and shopping centers that many wanted. It was a paradise for the postwar American Dream.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 11, 2011 -  The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, Directed by Chad Freidrichs, 79 minutes/U.S.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 22, 2011 - I've driven by or biked alongside the Pruitt-Igoe Homes site for years, that huge urban jungle on the western edge of downtown. Long ago, in the late 1960s, I visited the project on a couple of occasions while the buildings still stood, when people still lived there. I've never had the guts to go into the wilderness that is the Pruitt-Igoe site by myself, however.  I got a chance to go with a group the other day,  and I leapt at the invitation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 11, 2011 - Nearly 40 years ago, as viewers around the country watched the nightly news on their television screens, an 11-story tower framed by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis came tumbling down. It was the beginning of the end for Pruitt-Igoe, by then a crime-ridden, vandalized 33-building public housing complex that had been one of the largest of its kind ever built.

Razing the place was supposed to fix the Pruitt-Igoe problem. It did -- and it didn't.

Pruitt-Igoe in the 1960s
U.S. Geological Survey

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Nearly 40 years ago, as viewers around the country watched the nightly news on their television screens, an 11-story tower framed by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis came tumbling down. It was the beginning of the end for Pruitt-Igoe, by then a crime-ridden, vandalized 33-building public housing complex that had been one of the largest of its kind ever built.

Razing the place was supposed to fix the Pruitt-Igoe problem. It did -- and it didn't.

The Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in St. Louis was once considered the template for post-war public housing, a national model.  For awhile it was—until it wasn’t.  The high rise complex was constructed in 1954.  Two decades later, and by then notorious, Pruitt-Igoe was a pile of rubble, imploded and bulldozed into history. What went wrong and why?  That’s the subject of a new documentary film called The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History.   Directed by Chad Freidrichs, the film will have its St. Louis premiere this Saturday at the Missouri History Museum.