A lack of social and physical mobility has long played a critical role in destabilizing the community around the Pruitt-Igoe site. The prevalence of racism in the policy and planning of St. Louis has left these two types of mobility intrinsically tied. While the land was originally chosen for the public housing complex because of its proximity to the downtown business district, Pruitt-Igoe residents suffered an inability to escape the constraints of poverty. The planning of the highway system and the limited, East-West Metro system has cut out North St. Louis from the greater city. The difficulty of commuting in and out of North St. Louis and the site’s disconnection to the surrounding city is preventing the area’s development and reurbanization.
I am proposing to create an overlap of multiple transportation systems and networks to reconnect the Pruitt-Igoe site to the rest of the neighborhood, the city, and the entire St. Louis region. Expanding and improving the existing bike routes will provide the most sustainable, healthy, and efficient means of commute throughout the area. A proposed North-South running light rail loop will connect highly populated and historic neighborhoods as well as desirable attractions that are currently difficult to reach by public transportation. As indicated by the success of previous lightrail projects around the country, it will stimulate development along the rail corridor. By allowing the copious amount of vacant lots surrounding the site to be incorporated into a new expanded greenway network, the corridor will provide various programs for the neighborhood and allow the land (often a brownfield) to remediate and prepare for possible future development. The new greenway will expand and contract in scale, from existing only as improved walking and biking trails along the street to encompassing multiple city blocks, to provide a variety of experiences and programs. By improving the physical mobility on multiple levels will not only improve the health and economic possibility of the area, but will act as a means of improving the social mobility of the Pruitt-Igoe community.
Annie White is a designer at UIC and a proud resident of the city of St. Louis.