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Like many Midwestern cities, St. Louis grew in the 20th century because of industrialization. This provided new jobs for immigrants from the South and created opportunities for them to expand. The 1950 census recorded a peak population of 856 796. The city's population was dramatically reduced by suburbanization, which occurred from the 1950s to the 1990s. Also, the restructuring of industries and the loss of jobs were major factors. Because St. Louis was an independent city in its early days, its small geographic size meant that it lost a lot of its tax base. Most major cities annexed the surrounding areas to facilitate residential development away from the center of the city in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, St. Louis was not able to do this.
Many urban renewal projects were constructed in the 1950s as the city sought to replace substandard housing. Some of these projects were badly designed and caused problems. Pruitt-Igoe was one prominent example. It was demolished less than 20 years after its construction.