In the post–World War II era, state and federal legislators introduced a legal rhetoric of the environment and urban renewal that reshaped discourse and decision-making by municipal leaders and African American activists in Pittsburgh. This study presents a fuller historical analysis of the regulatory framework and sociopolitical context of Pittsburgh's postwar urban renewal by examining the environment, renewal, race, and the law as interrelated and inextricable concepts. It argues that both white political leaders and Black activists navigated a shifting regulatory framework and legal environmental rhetoric to craft divergent narratives of urban renewal. By examining municipal, state, and federal laws, urban planning documents, court decisions, and newspaper articles, this analysis demonstrates the evolution of environmental arguments with changing social, legal, and political contexts from the postwar years to the 1970s. Conclusions reveal a fluid definition of “environment” and demonstrate the ongoing struggle for power over decision-making spaces.

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