Several important episodes in the early history of mass housing in America are the subject of "In the Nature of a Clinic": The Design of Early Public Housing in St. Louis. In the late 1920s housing and reform advocates coalesced out of the strong St. Louis settlement house to push for slum clearance and large-scale home building for the working class. Their first achievement, Joseph Heathcott reports, was Neighborhood Gardens, completed in 1934 with funding from the Public Works Administration. Modern in architectural design and segregated in social plan, the project established a model for the larger undertakings inspired by the landmark 1937 Housing Act. By World War II, housing advocates and officials in St. Louis had created prototypes of a new urban form that would shape postwar activities, including the notorious Pruitt-Igoe.

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