August Heckscher

A lifelong advocate of public affairs and the arts, August Heckscher served his country, city, and neighborhood through a diverse career in public service. Primarily a writer, having worked as chief editorial writer for the New York Herald Tribune, August was appointed to work for the Kennedy Administration as special consultant on the arts, and from 1967-1972 he served as Parks Commissioner and Administrator of Cultural Affairs for New York City.

Throughout his life he published a series of books that illustrate his dedicated interest and knowledge of politics and culture, most notably his 1978 When LaGuardia Was Mayor, and 1993 biography, Woodrow Wilson. In his 1962 book of essays The Public Happiness August expresses his feelings on the rewards implicit in public service.

“Works which are truly public are comparatively few… but they are very precious and the source of much that is enjoyable in the common life. They comprise those things, which make for neighborliness and a sense of roots, which remind us we are one with other generations and give us peace in surroundings that keep the spirit whole.”

Though he grew up on Long Island, August Heckscher later took residence on the Upper East Side where he became an advocate for neighborhood concerns about the built environment. In 1981 he helped found CIVITAS, a coalition of citizens committed to improving neighborhood quality of life. CIVITAS has presented The August Heckscher Award to commemorate a lifetime of community service since 2001.