third place
(THURD plays; TH as in thin) n. A place other than home or work where a person can go to relax and feel part of the community.
third-place adj.

Example Citation:
There's no place like third place.

I'm not talking about winning and losing here, or races or sports or politics, but something far more important: the simple art of living your life in the real world. In that world, as someone has pointed out, all communities — and therefore all members of communities — need a "third place." It's not your home. It's not where you work. Those are the first two places. No, it's the place where you go to, um, be.
—Stephen Hunter, "Shear Gladness," The Washington Post, September 13, 2002

Earliest Citation:
"All great societies provide informal meeting places, like the Forum in ancient Rome or a contemporary English pub," explained Oldenburg, a faculty member at West Florida State University. "But since World War II, America has ceased doing so. The neighborhood tavern hasn't followed the middle class out to the suburbs...Accordingly, for eight years, Oldenburg devoted himself to gathering the legend and lore of America's last remaining neighborhood taverns, ma-and-pa grocery stores and other examples of what he calls "third places." The term derives from Oldenburg's gloss on a Freudian concept.

Sigmund Freud held that emotional well-being depends upon having someone to love and work to do. Oldenburg argues that the great psychoanalyst made his mental-health list one item too short. Besides a mate and a job, Oldenburg said, we need a dependable place of refuge where, for a few minutes a day, we can escape the demands of family and bosses.

In that kind of psychological Eden, an easy-going conviviality allows us to be temporarily amnesic to our woes and shortcomings.

Oldenburg is convinced that many problems of contemporary society — alienation in the workplace, soaring divorce rates, etc. — trace to America's declining supply of such third places.
—Ron Grossman, "Hangouts," Chicago Tribune, February 4, 1990

Notes:
The term third place was invented by sociologist Ray Oldenburg and first appeared in his 1990 book The Great Good Place, a celebration of the places where people can regularly go to take it easy and commune with friends, neighbors, and just whoever shows up. The subtitle says it all: "Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts and How They Get You Through the Day."

The concept struck a chord and the book became surprisingly popular. Many businesses and organizations redesigned themselves to encourage people to hang out. Some, to make sure you didn't miss the point, even incorporated "third place" in their names. We now have, for example, the Third Place Coffeehouse in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Third Place Bookstore in Lake Forest Park, (Thanks to Garrett Fitzgerald for the link.) Washington. Oldenburg even released a second book earlier this year: Celebrating the Third Place: Inspiring Stories About the "Great Good Places" at the Heart of Our Communities.

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