Environmental Inequalities

Class, Race, and Industrial Pollution in Gary, Indiana, 1945-1980

By Andrew Hurley

266 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4518-9
    Published: February 1995
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9878-9
    Published: November 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6466-6
    Published: November 2009

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By examining environmental change through the lens of conflicting social agendas, Andrew Hurley uncovers the historical roots of environmental inequality in contemporary urban America. Hurley's study focuses on the steel mill community of Gary, Indiana, a city that was sacrificed, like a thousand other American places, to industrial priorities in the decades following World War II. Although this period witnessed the emergence of a powerful environmental crusade and a resilient quest for equality and social justice among blue-collar workers and African Americans, such efforts often conflicted with the needs of industry. To secure their own interests, manufacturers and affluent white suburbanites exploited divisions of race and class, and the poor frequently found themselves trapped in deteriorating neighborhoods and exposed to dangerous levels of industrial pollution. In telling the story of Gary, Hurley reveals liberal capitalism's difficulties in reconciling concerns about social justice and quality of life with the imperatives of economic growth. He also shows that the power to mold the urban landscape was intertwined with the ability to govern social relations.

About the Author

Andrew Hurley is associate professor of history at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
For more information about Andrew Hurley, visit the Author Page.


"Hurley's well-written and well-organized work is a social and environmental history of the unequal distribution of environmental problems caused by industrial production processes. . . . The book is founded on solid research and is a pleasure to read."--Choice

"A devastating critique of American corporate capitalism, made all the more impressive by its meticulous scholarship."--Journal of American History

"An important book which anyone interested in cities, the environment, social justice, or just our modern age should read. It is a book which will quickly become the standard reference in the field."--Journal of Social History

"A model for the historical assessment of how environmental inequalities become established over time in a specific locality."--Environmental History

“Hurley’s book is a sophisticated and persuasive piece of environmental history. It is well-written, deeply researched, and strongly argued, making an effective case for the proposition that environmental inequality has been 'endemic to urban America.'"--American Historical Review

"An important, provocative analysis."--Labor History