What is a third place? And how can you find one? Ray Oldenburg first gave a name to these precious human habitats in his acclaimed 1989 book, The Great Good Place. A new version, more than 70% fresh material, will be published in February 2025 with his long-time collaborator Karen Christensen as coauthor. The 2025 The Great Good Place: Havens and Hangouts at the Heart of Community explains how third places – cafes, diners, coffee shops, tea parlors, hair salons, barber shops, pubs and taverns, taquerias, libraries, bookshops, and street corners – have a vital role to play in solving the big challenges of climate change, loneliness, and political polarization. Check out our blog, or our Third Places newsletter on Substack, and preorder the new book (or get a copy of the original, still available in print and now in ebook).

The original 1989 edition is still available, in print, Kindle ebook, and PDF ebook. Available from all booksellers through Ingram Global, as well as ProQuest, JStor, and more. Order from Berkshire Publishing.

The Great Good Place 2025

The new version, by Ray Oldenburg and his long-time collaborator Karen Christensen, brings the story up to the minute, showing how third places help us solve climate change, loneliness, and political polarization. Pre-order now and pay when book is released at $29.99 plus shipping.

Coming in February 2025

In the forthcoming The Great Good Place, Karen Christensen and Ray Oldenburg show how third places have a vital role to play in solving climate change, loneliness, and political polarization – and make us healthier to boot!

Explore real-life examples from around the world: bars and bistros, taquerias and teahouses, stoops and saunas, and much more. The authors delve into practical design and economic issues, encouraging readers to create and nurture the special places where, as the song goes, everyone knows your name. This new book is a completely new version of the late Ray Oldenburg’s influential 1989 book that introduced the concept of the third place, written by his long-time correspondent and collaborator Karen Christensen, senior editor of the 4-volume SAGE Encyclopedia of Community.

The authors tackle questions like these:

Supported by a grant from Mass Cultural Council

  • What is the difference between third places and public spaces?
  • Does a third place have to be free or cheap?
  • Can third places require membership?
  • Do third places need public funding?
  • What design elements help third places thrive?
  • How do you find (or create) a third place?

The original edition of The Great Good Place has been translated into many languages and is known around the world. We look forward to seeing the new edition translated widely.

“Oldenburg has given us an insightful and extremely useful new lens through which to look at a familiar problem… ” –Roberta Gratz, “Editor’s Choice,” New York Times Book Review.” “A day doesn’t go by that I don’t refer to Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place. At a time when all great, good independent bookstores every­ where are under siege, we’re fortunate that Mr. Oldenburg has articulated our message so clearly.” –Mitchell Kaplan, owner, Books & Books, Miami, Florida

A third place is a hangout where you can relax and be yourself with no responsibilities. It’s separate from home or work and convenient enough to visit regularly. It’s free or inexpensive, and conversation is the main activity. Everyone is welcome, but it’s also a familiar spot where, as the song goes, “everyone knows your name.” Possible third places include cafes, coffee shops, tea parlors, hair salons, barber shops, pubs and taverns, libraries, bookshops, street corners, and even park benches. If you like, you can share details of a third place you know and love – or a place you remember. You can also upload photos (up to 3). All posts will be reviewed by an editor before going live. Click here to add your third place to this website.

Below, you’ll find a few of our photographs, old and new, of third places.