Friendly Cities Lab studies location's role in romantic relationships

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck had their holiday in Rome. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks had their meeting at the top of the Empire State Building in New York. And of course, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman will always have Paris.

Cities have long played an important role in romantic relationships, both on and off screen. Couples met in coffee shops, had picnics in the park and went on dates at the bowling alley. But a Penn State research team says that’s begun to change with the rise of online dating and weekend-long Netflix binges.

“Love used to be a big part of the city landscape, but now so many relationships are contained online,” said Clio Andris, assistant professor of geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “We’re interested in learning how the city’s role in relationships has changed. Where are couples meeting and making their memories?”

Andris, along with architecture graduate student Sohrab Rahimi, is studying how cities — and State College specifically — play a role in modern romantic relationships. They’re interviewing students and alumni to discover how they meet romantic partners, where they spend their time and how their relationship status influences where they live.

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