Motor City Green

A Century of Landscapes and Environmentalism in Detroit

Joseph Stanhope Cialdella’s fine book, Motor City Green, relates a surprising tale that is perhaps not so surprising. Across the 130-year rise and decline history of America’s archetypal industrial city, Detroiters—even the most economically challenged among them, immigrants and African Americans—insisted on relationships of various kinds with the natural world.
The Michigan Historical Review
Winner, 2021 CCL J. B. Jackson Book Prize

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Motor City Green is a history of green spaces in metropolitan Detroit from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. The book focuses primarily on the history of gardens and parks in the city of Detroit and its suburbs in southeast Michigan. Cialdella argues that Detroit residents used green space to address problems created by the city’s industrial rise and decline, and racial segregation and economic inequality. As the city’s social landscape became increasingly uncontrollable, Detroiters turned to parks, gardens, yards, and other outdoor spaces to relieve the negative social and environmental consequences of industrial capitalism. Motor City Green looks to the past to demonstrate how today’s urban gardens in Detroit evolved from, but are also distinct from, other urban gardens and green spaces in the city’s past.

246 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

March, 2020

isbn : 9780822945727

about the author

Joseph S. Cialdella

Joseph S. Cialdella is the program manager for public scholarship at the University of Michigan.

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Joseph S. Cialdella