Deleted City

Was on Display from May 28 to October 2016

How do you make sense of a digital ruin?

[var.pageTitle]
This cheerful home page welcomed visitors to GeoCities in its heyday.
 
[var.pageTitle]
Deleted City is an interactive visualization created by Richard Vijgen, of the 650-gigabyte backup of the early web hosting service GeoCities.

Started in 1994 as Beverly Hills Internet by David Bohnett and John Rezner, GeoCities grew into the biggest online community of its era. Long before MySpace and Facebook, its tens of millions of "homesteaders" created personal pages in theme-based neighborhoods of their choice. Those neighborhoods started out as webcams in real places in Los Angeles - one in the gay mecca of West Hollywood, another in Beverly Hills for high-end shopping. But when GeoCities invited users to add their own pages on those themes, a virtual land rush began. After a spectacular IPO, GeoCities was bought by Yahoo! in 1999 for over $3 billion.

Yahoo! eventually decided GeoCities was obsolete. All 38 million pages of the main English-language site were to be erased in October 2009. Several groups of hacker preservationists stepped in. The Internet Archive, Archive Team, and other volunteers preserved tens of millions of pages. Artist Richard Vijgen created an interactive visualization of the 650-gigabyte backup of GeoCities.

Come explore the story of GeoCities and its rescue.

Learn about the challenges of preserving and making sense of our digital heritage.