The Great Good Place is a book by Ray Oldenburg, originally published in 1989. 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 renaissance of this work uses the new subtitle "Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community."
Oldenburg suggests that for a healthy existence, citizens must live in a balance of three realms: home life, the workplace, and the inclusively sociable places. Other cultures such as the French have their rendezvous term to describe this third realm, though as the American English language has no vocabulary to describe this third realm, Oldenburg adopts the accepted term third place to describe these locations throughout the book.
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
The largest causes underlined in the passing of third places are urban planning practices and suburban development. If the deterioration of American community are to be addressed, the third place may be a solution in reframing the way interpersonal interaction is approached on an individual level.
Ray Oldenburg is an urban sociologist at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida. He writes about the importance of informal public gathering places