Tony Hiss

Tony HissTony Hiss, an independent author, lecturer, and consultant about restoring America’s cities and landscapes, became a staff writer at The New Yorker in 1963, and since 1994 has been a Visiting Scholar at New York University, first at the Taub Urban Research Center, and now at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. In 2002 he also became a Fellow of the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems (CIUS). He is the author of twelve books, most recently “The State of the H2O Region – 2002” (with Christopher Meier) and “The View from Alger’s Window: A Son’s Memoir” (a New York Times Notable Book). Other books include the award-winning “The Experience of Place”; “All Aboard with E. M. Frimbo” (with Rogers E. M. Whitaker), a classic American travel book republished in 1997; and (with Robert D. Yaro) “A Region at Risk: The Third Regional Plan for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Metropolitan Area,” which received front-page coverage from The New York Times in 1996; and two 1998 books with celebrated landscape photographers: “Prairie Passage” (with Edward Ranney); and “Disarming the Prairie” (with Terry Evans

Hiss is spearheading NatureRail, a new environmental and transportation initiative that works with commuter railroads to safeguard and restore the land they use, and to expand recreation and wilderness opportunities for all metropolitan residents. He organized a 1997 conference for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund about the future of the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary; as a result, several New York area foundations set up the “H2O (Highlands-to-Ocean) Fund” to rescue and protect this great jewel.

Hiss wrote the vision statement for the Great American Station Foundation, set up by Amtrak in December 1996. He also wrote the report which at the beginning of the 1990s launched New York State’s 100-mile-long Hudson River Valley Greenway initiative. Hiss consults frequently on changing regional growth patterns, and on visualizing and connecting to the future–through alternate development scenes, threats mapping, ecostructure mapping, and environmental simulation. He has lectured widely to large audiences in the U.S. and Canada.

The National Recreation and Park Association awarded Hiss its 1995 National Literary Award for a lifetime of “spellbinding and poignant” writing about “how our environments, modes of travel, and other aspects of the American landscape affect our lives.” “His words,” said the citation, “are often poetic, always real.” In 1998 he received the George S. Lewis Award from the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter for 35 years of writing that’s made New York a better city to live in.

Hiss’s next book, “From Place to Place,” about solving America’s transportation and sprawl problems, has received underwriting grants from four foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1994, and is now a Contributing Editor to Preservation magazine, and a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Gourmet, The Atlantic, and Travel & Leisure. He is a trustee of the Orton Family Foundation; a director of the Conservancy for Historic Battery Park, and of the Village Alliance; and is on the advisory board of Scenic America, Inc. and of the East Coast Greenway Alliance. He is listed in “Who’s Who in America.”

Tony Hiss lives in New York City with his wife, the novelist, Lois Metzger, and their eleven-year-old son, Jacob.

© 2012 CUNY Institute for Urban Systems