The Impact of Third Places on Community Quality of Life
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Older cities struggling with issues of survival focus on jobs and the economy, but competition requires all cities to pay attention to the quality of life that attracts residents. Creating such an inviting environment includes “third places” that foster community and communication among people outside of home and work, yet we have little empirical evidence that speaks to the subject, or their importance for a community’s quality of life. Here we report on a national U.S. survey that asked people to identify such places in their community, producing a wide variety of “third places” that ranged from the most popular community centers, coffee shops and restaurants to parks and malls. While a few relationships are found between population/diversity and the popularity of particular third places, the most important result confirms a hypothesized relationship between perceptions that third places are accessible in their community and the perceived quality of life.