What is a '
"Social condensers" — the place where citizens of a community or neighborhood develop friendships, discuss issues, and interact with others — have always been an important way in which the community developed and retained cohesion and a sense of identity. Ray Oldenburg, in The Great Good Place (1989), calls these locations "third places." (The first being the home and the second being work.) These third places are crucial to a community for a number of reasons, according to
There are essential ingredients to a well-functioning third place. They must be free or quite inexpensive to enter and purchase food and drink. They must be highly accessible to neighborhoods so that people find it easy to make the place a regular part of their routine — in other words, a lot of people should be able to comfortably walk to the place from their home. It should be a place where the person feels welcome and comfortable, and where it is easy to enter into conversation. And a person who goes there should be able to expect to find both old and new
friends each time she or he goes there.
According to Oldenburg, World War II marks the historical juncture after which informal public life began to decline in the U.S. Old neighborhoods and their cafes, taverns, and corner stores have fallen to urban renewal, freeway expansion, and planning that discounts the importance of congenial, unified and vital neighborhoods. The newer neighborhoods have developed under the single-use zoning imperative — which makes these critical, informal social gathering places illegal.
WELCOME TO OUR "3RD PLACE"