• This article examines the ways that geohumanities approaches historical research aids in the study of environmental and urban history in one of the twentieth century’s fastest growing American urban centers. It explores how San Jose typified the challenges of Silicon Valley’s rapid urbanization and desire to chart a new form of industrialisation predicated on the ‘greenness’ of high-tech manufacturing and development. These issues are examined through a variety of mapping and GIS projects that seek to understand areas of cities threatened by natural hazards, to unveil the growth of cities over time, and how polluted areas introduced environmental hazards to social inequality. The article concludes that studies of urban areas cannot be separated from questions about the environment and its role in social justice, urban planning, and politics.