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The Experience of Place: A New Way of Looking at and Dealing With our Radically Changing Cities and Countryside Paperback – October 1, 1991


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The Experience of Place: A New Way of Looking at and Dealing With our Radically Changing Cities and Countryside + In Motion: The Experience of Travel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679735941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679735946
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tony Hiss's lively book takes a considered look at a variety of landscapes, from New York's Central Park to the Great Plains, and points out why the design of some places gives us the creeps, while that of others liberates our senses. Hiss suggests how cities and suburbs can be shaped to keep (or rediscover) their connection to the natural landscape, and, more important, how--for once--our expansion into a place need not mean its destruction. There's much food for thought in The Experience of Place, and a dozen starting points for the reinhabitation our lands require.

From Publishers Weekly

Elements of environmentalism and urban and regional planning inform Hiss's on-site responses to Manhattan landmarks, Maine's north woods, Great Britain's protected landscapes and Frankfurt's open spaces. "His revelatory odyssey is an invitation to stop, look, linger--and preserve what is life-enhancing in the environment," said PW. Illustrated.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

For years I've been fascinated by how peopole are affected by the changes in the places around them - cities and landscapes - and also by how people themselves change as they move through these places. My latest book, "In Motion: The Experience of Travel," explores a rewarding and vivid wide-awake-ness that travel can evoke - a state of mind I call Deep Travel. More information about Deep Travel and a forum for sharing your own Deep Travel stories can be found at the "In Motion" Web site: www.howwetravel.org

"In Motion" is my 13th book. My previous books, which include "The Experience of Place," have also covered train travel, Hunanese cooking, giant pandas, photography, the story of my family, the landscape of the Chicago area, and the landscape and future of the New York City region. I was a staff writer at The New Yorker for more than 30 years and I've lectured widely all over the world. Currently I'm a Visiting Scholar at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. I live in New York City with my wife, writer Lois Metzger, and our son.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Tomlin on June 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
It was Mr. Hiss' book that first inspired me to pursue a career as a city planner/city administrator. I recently reread the book to refresh much of the enthusiasm for carefully crafting a sense of place that, too often, can be dulled by the grind of bureaucracy. The New York Times is only partially right in suggesting that this book is essential reading for city planners, developers and city administrators". It also should be reread, upon occassion, to provide continued inspiration for better planning and development. The book can be effectively supplemented by Howard Kunsteler's Geography of Nowhere and Home From Nowhere.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is an exploration about what makes a place look and feel right for human habitation. In the introduction, Hiss sets out some interesting goals. To justify his outlook, he states "the places where we spend our time affect the people we are and can become," and later adds "the relationship with the places we know...is a close bond...a continuum with all we are and think." It follows, then, that changes in our environment will affect ourselves as well, and that "overdevelopment and urban sprawl can damage our own lives as much as they damage our cities and countryside." Hiss goes on to argue that before changing a place, we need to make sure that the changes will nurture our growth as people, protect the natural environment, and develop jobs and homes for all. It's tough making the right decisions that will result in these sorts of positive changes, so Hiss advises that we need to learn to pay close attention to our surroundings, using all of our senses at once. If we don't do this, then bad changes in our environment will come to pass, and we will experience a sense of loss as places that are dear to us disappear.
The introduction is an intriguing essay, but for me, the rest of the book didn't live up to the goals laid out by Hiss in the introduction. The main text is divided into two parts: "Experiencing Cities," and "Encountering the Countryside." The titles themselves of these sections make it clear that the book is told entirely from a city person's point of view, a person who experiences city life on a day-to-day basis, and only makes it out into the country for short encounters. But even more specifically, Hiss is not just a city person, but a New Yorker, and almost all of the examples that he uses to make his points are from New York City.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By guy wonder on May 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a great book that we read in a class on The Experience of Place. Right up there with Walden Pond (but to me less boring) Hiss takes you through urban and rural landscapes, and talks about how place changes us and how we change places. A terrific non fiction book and a great read too. I especially love the chapters on Times Square and Grand Central Station, but the pieces on Prospect park and the working farm out on Long Island are amazing too. Hiss was a staff writer for The New Yorker for years and I've always admired his work, but this one's my favorite.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was required to read this book as a part of a real-estate development/project management class, and was surprised and refreshed by the author's insights into public space and evironments. The book attempts to get at fundamental values of creating "a sense of place," and although decidedly a bit frou-frou and subjective at times, it offers tangible alternative avenues to our notions of land-use planning and real-estate development. Extremely easy-reading, and insightful.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David C. Thornton on December 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Too bad the title was wasted on this one. Don't bother reading this unless you want to read long, drawn-out exposition of efforts at preserving various farms and wilderness in the New England states and buildings and parks in NYC. The research was light, no real thesis put forth - some garble about "simultaneous perception" that's forgotten after the first chapters hardly counts. It's not that the writing is offensive, but it is a bit boring and provincial, and lacking in unity and focus.
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