Lately I have been working with Sanborn Maps to track the scale, pattern, and use of the Pruitt-Igoe and Gateway Arch sites. This is very much still a work in progress, but it begins to suggest what Pruitt-Igoe looked like between 1930 and 1950. Many lots had already been cleared; many with structures still present were marked “junk”. There were industrial uses, too: warehouse, liveries, garages, and a Coca-Cola bottling plant in the northwest corner. Churches were labeled with the race of their congregants–and there were many more then than there are now.
This page from a 1951 Architectural Forum article gives a sense of the architecture that existed in the neighborhood — but you can probably guess how it was viewed at the time, given the map labeling much of the city as either “obsolete” or “blighted”. (The glowing review of the Pruitt-Igoe design, and subsequent 1965 retraction, deserves its own post.)