Austin, Texas has a reputation as a vibrant, youthful capital city buoyed economically and culturally by the University of Texas. In City in a Garden: Environmental Transformations and Racial Justice in Twentieth-Century Austin, Texas
(University of North Carolina Press, 2017), Andrew M. Busch
argues that this identity was consciously constructed over the course of the twentieth century and came at a price. Busch, an assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at Coastal Carolina University, uses a bevy of promotional material and other municipal records to credibly argue that Austin’s image as a city of “industry without smokestacks” appealed to white-collar knowledge workers after World War II was a racially coded message that shaped the city’s racial geography. Environmental racism revolving around water rights, noise pollution, gasoline farms, and segregated public space all shaped Austin’s history and continue to do so up to today. City in a Garden
is a wonderfully interdisciplinary history that critiques colorblind sustainability and provides an alternate and just vision for the new urbanism of the early twenty-first century.
Stephen Hausmann is a doctoral candidate at Temple University and Visiting Instructor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently writing his dissertation, a history of race and the environment in the Black Hills and surrounding northern plains region of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.