Since publishing his book Motor City Green in 2020, American Culture Alumni, Joseph Stanhope Cialdella (Class of 2015), has received two outstanding awards.

In 2021, Joseph received the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies. The prize awards authors who have recently published books that have made significant contributions to the study and understanding of garden history and landscape studies.

In 2020, Joseph received the Jon Gjerde Prize which is given annually by the Midwestern History Association to the author(s) of the best book in Midwestern history published during the previous calendar year. The prize is named for the late historian of immigration and ethnicity, who made significant contributions to the historical understanding of American history, especially the history of the people of the Midwest.


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.

Purchase Motor City Green here.