When I saw these pictures from Ruby's bar I was reminded of a thought put forth by sociologist Ray Oldenburg. In his book The Good Great Place, he talks about the idea of "third places," which he describes as being "nothing more than informal public gathering places. The phrase 'third places' derives from considering our homes to be the 'first' places in our lives, and our work places the 'second.' He continues by saying, "The character of a third place is determined most of all by its regular clientele and is marked by a playful mood, which contrasts with people’s more serious involvement in other spheres. Though a radically different kind of setting for a home, the third place is remarkably similar to a good home in the psychological comfort and support that it extends…They are the heart of a community’s social vitality, the grassroots of democracy, but sadly, they constitute a diminishing aspect of the American social landscape....Life without community has produced, for many, a life style consisting mainly of a home-to-work-and-back-again shuttle. Social well-being and psychological health depend upon community. It is no coincidence that the 'helping professions' became a major industry in the United States as suburban planning helped destroy local public life and the community support it once lent."
It looks to me as though the patrons of Ruby's certainly look to be heartbroken over the impending loss of their "third place." Read more about redevelopment plans for Coney Island and the vendors' loss of their leases in The New York Times.
Do you have a favorite third place in your community?