The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

but it also crackles with irritation over the loaded game of archival
access. This is no assistant professor's vast catalogue of citations; rather,
it is a mature and exceedingly independent scholar's first-person judg-
ment. It includes an attack on the methodological and evidential li-
cense of biographer Robert A. Caro that is alone worth the price of
entry. Given the restrictions that are inherent in the format of the
Kansas series on the presidency, Bornet has produced a personal inter-
pretation that will pleasantly surprise students of the Johnson litera-
ture, who perforce have grown inured to an unbalanced diet that al-
ternates between ideological polemics and scholarly boredom.
University of Maryland, Baltimore County HUGH DAVIs GRAHAM
City Building in the New South: The Growth of Public Services in
Houston, Texas, z830-r915. By Harold L. Platt. (Philadelphia:
Temple University Press, 1983. Pp. xx+252. Series preface,
preface, maps, illustrations, tables, charts, notes, index. $29.95.)
More books like City Building in the New South need to be written.
Harold L. Platt performs an important task in the field of urban his-
tory by adding a significant study on city services and their political
implications. He also helps to bolster the puny literature on Texas
urban development-an area of research crying out for more attention.
City Building in the New South treats Houston during its rise to
regional dominance in South Texas. The main thrust of the book is
that Houston boosters used the development of services as a way to
promote growth and compete effectively against their major rival,
Galveston. In general, this story of urban rivalry is a traditional one.
By focusing on the city-building process and the delivery of services,
however, Platt moves beyond the standard political and economic
treatment of boosterism.
The growth of public services and the early rise of Houston fall into
two periods. In the first, "amateur" planners devoted major attention
to developing an effective transportation network. Not until the mid-
i 88os, Platt asserts, was much headway made in the creation of a mod-
ern city. However, acceptance of municipal responsibility for public
welfare through public services began to evolve. In the second peri-
od-189o to 19go-"experts" dominated city planning and a battle
raged over competing views of service delivery. One view paid homage
to the need to make Houston an attractive place for its residents to
live. The other regarded service delivery as a means of stimulating in-
vestment and economic growth. By 1905, the "metropolitans"-advo-

222

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/. Accessed July 30, 2014.