The Great Good Place (book)

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The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community
First edition
AuthorRay Oldenburg
SubjectThe Great Good Place argues that "third places" - where people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation - are the heart of a community's social vitality and the grassroots of democracy.
PublisherDa Capo Press
Publication date
18 August 1999
Media typePrint(Paperback)

The Great Good Place is a book by Ray Oldenburg, originally published in 1989. More recent reprints have occurred in 1997 and 1999. While "Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts, and How They Get You through the Day" was the original subtitle, the more recent reprints of this work use the new subtitle "Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community."

Third places[edit]

The book is notable for coining the term "Third place".

Oldenburg asserts that informal gathering places, such as those he refers to as "third places," are crucial for fostering community and civility. These spaces, where conversation takes center stage and gatherings are unplanned, serve as equalizers, transcending distinctions of status, class, and race. Oldenburg argues that the decline of Third Places has contributed to the erosion of community, civility, and increased isolation and division within American society.[1]

Other than the numerous personal benefits third places offer their regulars, Oldenburg advocates for the immense social value they bring and points out their historical role, amongst others:

  • The American tavern in the American Revolution
  • The French café in the French Revolution
  • The London coffee house during the Enlightenment
  • The agora in Greek democracy


  1. ^ Reid, Dave. "The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg – Book Review". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved 9 February 2024.