Third places is a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg and refers to places where people spend time between home (‘first’ place) and work (‘second’ place). They are locations where we exchange ideas, have a good time, and build relationships.
For some Utahns, third places are virtual – think social media, chat rooms, and group texts. But who really makes meaningful connections to their community without face-to-face conversation? The most effective ones seem to be physical places where people can easily connect with each other – we’re talking parks, rec centers, hair salons, clubs, gyms, churches, and restaurants. Preferably with a wifi connection.
You often hear our City planners and Arts Council leaders refer to “placemaking” – efforts to reinvigorate Salt Lake City include the idea of third places, especially public spaces, to try and break down social barriers. “If we are going to see more genuine third places, we believe that it is more likely to come from placemaking driven by our local communities,” says Lara Fritts, Director of Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development.
Third places are small business friendly. They also help business owners expand by attracting a talented and plentiful workforce. They spark innovation, community ownership and exchange of ideas. Smart companies understand this and locate themselves where their workforce wants to live.
We asked our Business Advisory Board Members what their favorite third place is in Salt Lake City.
Here’s what they said:
- “Does all of Downtown count? The streets of Downtown, are my favorite hangout place. There’s a certain charm about them. Anytime I can get food at a walking distance, or grab a greenBike to get to a place downtown, is a very enjoyable time for me, and my favorite part of living in the City.” – Ana Valdemoros
- “I’m a daily runner and love to weave my way through the Rose Park neighborhoods and pass the Joseph F. Steenblik Park. One of my favorite public art pieces resides there—a series of giant copper and steel cat sculptures. You’ll want to Instagram them.” – Angela Brown
- “Farmers Market in the Summer, Winter Market at Rio Grande in the winter!” – Kestrel Liedtke
- “The various events and festivals on Library Square and City Hall. I wish we had events there every weekend!” – Darin Piccoli
- “At 21st & 21st we need to create it!” – JD Smith
- “I really enjoy the Jordan River Trail system, and I’m really pleased by the restoration work that’s been done in recent years. That needs to continue, and even accelerate, to allow the community to safely enjoy this great asset. Other than that, I always love a great meal at Red Iguana or Red Iguana 2!” – John Lair
- “A tough question—I have several! Eggs in the City for great omelets; The Kings English with a good book top my list.” – Karen Gunn
- “City Creek Park is a daily favorite for walks. I also love Proper and Bistro on 3rd.” – Steve Labrum
If you don’t know where or what your “Third Place” might be, imagine a friend choosing to move to Utah asking, “What is so special about Salt Lake City?” Your response is?