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A (Third) Place Where Everybody Knows Your Name

February 27, 2014 / , ,

The nostalgia of living in a small town, walking down Main Street, and stopping for a cold beer after a long day at work is now considered America in the past.  The corner pubs, cafes, bistros and family picnic parks have been replaced with spacious dream homes, big box retailers and strip malls–eliminating those traditional “walks of life” that unified communities through informal socialization.  With American Life becoming more jangled and fragmented, the need for a walkable community life has become more appealing. Does buying a home in a walkable neighborhood appeal to you?  The Town of Whitehall will be a live, work, play environment that understands the ease of social involvement and social interaction is the “anchor” of a walkable community. 

shutterstock_132830531In the book “The Great Good Place,” by Ray Oldenburg, Ray describes the importance of revitalizing the “third place” in the community (One being home, and two being the workplace).   The third place plays an important role as a focal point in a community’s life.  The Town of Whitehall agrees the most important function of the third place is to unite the neighborhood by inspiring, teaching, connecting, supporting efforts to improve health and well-being, and offering relaxed companionship in informal public places.

Old world traditions like the German-American Lager Beer Gardens, the French Café and the American Tavern all played a vital role as the third place when establishing a community center.   They provided a passion for gatherings and the realization that informal socialization like singing, dancing, drinking and feasting was viable to both young and old.   Great civilizations have evolved due to the growth and refinement of these distinctive informal public gathering places.


Car barn at du Pont Street and Delaware Avenue, 1882. Wilmington, Delaware. This is where Trolley Square shopping center is today.

During the colonial era, it was common to see a tavern or saloon as one of the first structures erected.  Two areas in Delaware, Middletown and Trolley Square, are great examples.  Middletown was an early crossroads town about half-way between Appoquinimink Creek and the Bohemia River.  It was one of the old Delaware settlements not on a navigable waterway; thus the name, “Middletown.”  The first local watering hole arose in Middletown in the year 1762.  It was originally called The Witherspoon’s Tavern and now known as Sully’s Pub.  The town of Middletown was built around this tavern in 1861, making the tavern a staple within the community.   Trolley Square in Wilmington Delaware emerged in 1750 when a wealthy Quaker merchant bought land west of Wilmington and called it Hope Farm.  Horse-drawn trolleys would pull up to the barn in what is now the heart of Trolley Square.  Around 1865 Trolley Square began with their two third place establishments.  The Logan House Hotel (now Kelly’s Logan House) erected, and a year later came the Neighborhood Brewery which is now Gallucio’s Bar & Grill.  Cafés, bookstores, coffee shops, bistros, the brewery and the Ole Irish Pub are all historical examples in many ancient towns and villages playing the third place role in the community.

Waters 07MAY22 9264 (ZF-7320-85281-1-011)

In today’s age of downloads, you are finding less music stores, movie theatres and bookstores to go hang out in.  The remaining place where there is shared community is becoming more important and yes, the local Irish Pub qualifies.  There is no app to pour you a pint of your favorite beer.  The local pub in a walkable community does bring back many cultural traditions; not because of the booze, but as its role as a third place.  It is the place where people can gather easily, inexpensively, regularly and pleasurably just steps from their front door.  This informal public place on neutral ground is where any person is welcome to gather, laugh and interact.  No membership or exclusion is necessary, inviting young and old to mingle together.

Establishing the third place in a walkable community is beneficial in many ways.   It gives people in the community social networks and community involvements that have positive health benefits both physically and mentally.  These establishments are the heart for nourishing community activities day and night.  Just imagine life without community, it would consist mainly of home to work and back again.   The local pub is only one example of “a place on the corner” in a live, walk, play community that allows you to escape the home and workplace.  And guess what, it does not necessitate getting into a car.  If ever there was a business you should be walking to (and from) rather than driving, it is to your “local” pub.

The Town of Whitehall’s vision is a walkable community that gives future residents that uniquely American sense of place.  A community where the new homebuyer’s live, work, play environment creates historical traditions and culture that will last a lifetime.

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