City in a Garden

Environmental Transformations and Racial Justice in Twentieth-Century Austin, Texas

By Andrew M. Busch

City in a Garden

336 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 19 halftones, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3264-3
    Published: July 2017
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3263-6
    Published: July 2017
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3265-0
    Published: May 2017

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The natural beauty of Austin, Texas, has always been central to the city’s identity. From the beginning, city leaders, residents, planners, and employers consistently imagined Austin as a natural place, highlighting the region’s environmental attributes as they marketed the city and planned for its growth. Yet, as Austin modernized and attracted an educated and skilled labor force, the demand to preserve its natural spaces was used to justify economic and racial segregation. This effort to create and maintain a “city in a garden” perpetuated uneven social and economic power relationships throughout the twentieth century.

In telling Austin’s story, Andrew M. Busch invites readers to consider the wider implications of environmentally friendly urban development. While Austin’s mainstream environmental record is impressive, its minority groups continue to live on the economic, social, and geographic margins of the city. By demonstrating how the city’s midcentury modernization and progressive movement sustained racial oppression, restriction, and uneven development in the decades that followed, Busch reveals the darker ramifications of Austin’s green growth.

About the Author

Andrew M. Busch is senior lecturer and program director of American studies at the University of Texas at Dallas.
For more information about Andrew M. Busch, visit the Author Page.


“Busch poses a much-needed challenge to Austin’s--and other similar cities’--sunny and self-serving versions of their own history. City in a Garden is a fresh and well-fortified approach to some of the most central questions in the urban history of twentieth-century America.”--Christopher C. Sellers, author of Crabgrass Crucible

“In this richly detailed account, Busch demonstrates that the same forces that produce the vaunted ‘green cities’ of the twenty-first century can also reproduce striking patterns of racial and economic segregation and exclusion. It is a complicated and profound assessment of the ways cities constitute the environment through a broad array of policies, investments, and everyday practices. In this context, Busch demonstrates how racially subordinated groups have consistently invoked a vision of urbanism rooted in far-reaching commitments to community health, equity, and justice.”—Daniel HoSang, University of Oregon