Where Have All the Third Spaces Gone?

,” pub­lic or qua­si-pub­lic spaces peo­ple spend time between and , are rapid­ly dis­ap­pear­ing in , accord­ing to an arti­cle by Jake Blum­gart in the Philadel­phia Inquir­er. As Blum­gart explains,

Few cof­fee shops in Cen­ter City or South Philadel­phia stay past 5 p.m. The city’s all-night din­ers are dwin­dling away. The Barnes & Noble on Wal­nut Street is down­siz­ing, caus­ing an out­cry over the loss of a pub­lic restroom and accom­mo­dat­ing pub­lic spaces. Fast food restau­rants large­ly van­ished from .

Blum­gart points out that areas around uni­ver­si­ties tend to cul­ti­vate semi-pub­lic spaces that a pleas­ant respite for peo­ple beyond the cam­pus com­mu­ni­ty. In Philadel­phia, “Uni­ver­si­ty City is home to so many “third spaces” part­ly because Penn and Drex­el see them as part of a larg­er strat­e­gy to improve rela­tions with the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods.”

But as busi­ness­es slashed their hours dur­ing the pan­dem­ic to accom­mo­date city restric­tions, low­er demand, and reduced staff, many peo­ple find them­selves with­out any­where out­side of bars to spend time in the evenings.

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