The realization that places have important meanings for people, particularly for poor people, has surfaced since at least the mid- 19th century. Such commitments to communities account for apparently irrational behaviors: returning to bombed-out areas of previous residence, or clinging to land or homes that are hopelessly inadequate.By contrast, people do emigrate and, despite initial intentions, they rarely return. And, for all the affiliations with past places, attractive features in new residential areas often compensate for the earlier sense of destitution and deprivation. These reveal unresolved dilemmas in the meaning of place commitments. In an early paper on the bonding between people and places, the concept of spatial identity (Fried, 1963) was used to portray the importance of the place itself in explaining the commitment (working-class) people had to their homes. Usually derived from prior ethnosocial investments, the place served as a singular symbol of belonging. A modest number of people who had been forcibly displaced were profoundly distressed; for them, such person-place affiliations were wholly irreplaceable. But for most, unhappy though many people were, the prior commitment and the subsequent experience were less intense. Moreover, it was the fundamental importance of the neighborhood community as s sociophysical entity, rather than the house of home itself which formed the core of spatial identity. Subsequently, this concept was reformulated in functional terms as place identity (Proshansky, 1978). However, the basis for such identity requires considerations of: (a) sociohistorical transformations that encourage or discourage local identifications; (b) diversities of place identity linked to gender, social position, resources, social roles, or lifespan changes; and (C) the effect of the human landscape as context. Further understanding of such identity is provided by recent studies of more generalized place ideology (Hummon, 1990) and of commitments encapsulated in the idea of settlement identity (Feldman, 1990): distinctive preferences for a type of settlement - city, suburb, town, rural/mountain - rather than specific, concrete places. It is an orientation derived from familiarity and functional appropriateness. One might hypothesize, however, that it represents an emergent phenomenon unique in modern, urban, industrial societies. An analysis of sub-groups, by class, by ethnicity, by life cycle stage by gender, and by environmental context may well demonstrate considerable variation in the generality of place commitments and in the depth of community investment. Much evidence suggests these increased complexities and diversities. This paper addresses these issues on theoretical grounds, on an extensive literature, and analysis of several data that clarify transformations in the meaning of place across time and context.