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Yahoo! GeoCities
Yahoo! Geocities (2009).png
2009-2019 logo
Type of site
Web hosting
Created byDavid Bohnett and John Rezner
LaunchedNovember 1994; 26 years ago (1994-11)
Current statusDefunct

Yahoo! GeoCities was a web hosting service that allowed users to create and publish websites for free and to browse user-created websites by their theme or interest. GeoCities was started in November 1994 by David Bohnett and John Rezner, and was named Beverly Hills Internet briefly before being renamed GeoCities.[1] On January 28, 1999, it was acquired by Yahoo!,[2] at which time it was allegedly the third-most visited website on the World Wide Web.[3]

In its original form, site users selected a "city" in which to list the hyperlinks to their web pages. The "cities" were named after real cities or regions according to their content - for example, computer-related sites were placed in "SiliconValley" and those dealing with entertainment were assigned to "Hollywood"; hence the name of the site. Soon after its acquisition by Yahoo!, this practice was abandoned in favour of using the Yahoo! member names in the URLs.

In April 2009,[4] the company announced that it would end the United States GeoCities service on October 26, 2009.[5][6][7]

There were at least 38 million pages displayed by GeoCities before it was terminated, most user-written.[8] The GeoCities Japan version of the service endured until March 31, 2019.[9]


In its original form, site users selected a so-called "city" in which to list the hyperlinks to their web pages. The "cities" were named after real cities or regions according to their content--- for example, computer-related sites were displayed in "SiliconValley" and those dealing with entertainment were assigned to "Hollywood"--- hence the name of the site. Soon after its acquisition by Yahoo!, this practice was abandoned in favour of using the Yahoo! member names in the URLs. During 1996, GeoCities had 29 "neighborhoods," which had groupings of content created by the "homesteaders" (GeoCities users).[10] By 1999, GeoCities had additional neighborhoods and refocused existing neighborhoods.[11]

GeoCities Marketplace

During 1999, GeoCities included GeoCities Marketplace, a commercial website. It included the GeoStore, which sold GeoCities-branded merchandise. Users cashed in GeoPoints in the store.[12]

GeoCities Japan

Prior to the acquisition by Yahoo!, GeoCities had a Japanese subsidiary, GeoCities Japan. GeoCities Japan had headquarters in the Nihonbashi Hakozaki Building in the Nihonbashi area of Ch, Tokyo.[13] As of February 10, 2016, GeoCities Japan was still online. Its member sites were still accessible. It was still accepting new account registrations, but services were only available in Japanese.[9]

On October 1, 2018, Yahoo! Japan announced the termination of GeoCities Japan effective March 31, 2019.[14][15]

Japan neighborhoods

GeoCities Japan had the following neighborhoods:[16]

  • WallStreet (, W?rugai): Finance and business
  • Epicurean Table (, Epikyurian T?buru): Dining
  • Colosseum (, Koroshiamu): Outdoor sports and health
  • SiliconValley (?, Shirikon Bar?): Computers and the internet
  • SilkRoad (, Shiruku R?do): Travel
  • Technopolis (, Tekunoporisu): Science and high technology
  • Berkeley (, B?kurei): Education and student life
  • Heartland (, H?torando): Family and pets
  • Hollywood (, Hariuddo): Films and performing arts
  • Playtown (, Pureitaun): Video games
  • Broadway (?, Bur?dowei): Pop, rock music, and concerts
  • Milano (, Mirano): Fashion, design, and shopping
  • Milkyway (?, Miruk?wei): Dating
  • MotorCity (?, M?t? Shiti): Automobiles and motorcycles


The first GeoCities logo (1995–1998).

GeoCities began during mid-1995 as BHI, which stood for Beverly Hills Internet, a small Web hosting and development company in Southern California.[17]

The company created its own Web directory, organized thematically as six so-called "neighborhoods". The neighborhoods included "Colosseum," "Hollywood," "RodeoDrive," "SunsetStrip," "WallStreet," and "WestHollywood". In mid-1995, the company decided to offer users (thereafter known as "Homesteaders") the ability to develop free home pages within those neighborhoods. During the registration process, new members chose to which neighborhood they wanted to belong. This neighborhood became part of the member's Web address along with a sequentially assigned "street address" number to make the URL unique (for example, ""). Chat, bulletin boards, and other elements of "community" were added soon afterward, helping foster rapid growth. On July 5, 1995 GeoCities added additional cities, including "CapitolHill," "Paris," "SiliconValley," and "Tokyo."[17] By December 1995, the company, which now had a total of 14 neighborhoods, was registering thousands of Homesteaders a day and getting more than six million monthly page views. GeoCities never enforced neighborhood-specific content; for example, a "Hollywood" homesteader could be nothing but a college student's home page. The company decided to emphasize increasing membership and community, and on December 15, 1995, BHI became known as GeoCities after having also been named Geopages.[18] At that time GeoCities was headquartered at 9401 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.[18] By December 1996, it was headquartered on the third floor of 1918 Main Street in nearby Santa Monica, with an office on the 8th floor of 125 Park Avenue in New York City.[19]

The second and last GeoCities logo of 1998–1999.

Over time, many companies, including Yahoo!, invested extensively in GeoCities and, with the introduction of paid premium services, the site continued to grow. During May 1997, GeoCities introduced advertisements on its pages. Despite negative reaction from users, GeoCities continued to grow. By June 1997, GeoCities was the fifth most popular website on the Web, and by October of that year the company had registered its millionth Homesteader.[]

During June 1998, in an effort to increase brand awareness, GeoCities introduced a watermark to user Web pages. The watermark, much like an onscreen graphic on some television channels, was a transparent floating GIF image which used JavaScript to stay displayed on the bottom right side of the browser screen. Many users felt the watermark interfered with the design of their Web site and threatened to relocate their Web pages elsewhere. The implementation of the watermark preceded the widespread adoption of CSS and the standardized Document Object Model and had cross-browser problems. However, GeoCities said in a press release that feedback regarding the watermark had been overwhelmingly positive.[20]

The company became corporate during August 1998, being listed with the NASDAQ exchange with the code GCTY. The Initial public offering price was $17, increasing rapidly after the initial offering to a maximum of more than $100. By 1999 GeoCities was the third-most visited website of the World Wide Web, behind AOL and Yahoo!.[3] The headquarters had been relocated to 4499 Glencoe Avenue in Los Angeles, near the Marina del Rey area of Los Angeles County.[21]

Acquisition by Yahoo!

The first Yahoo! GeoCities logo (1999-2009).

During January 1999, near the maximum of the dot-com bubble, GeoCities was purchased by Yahoo! for $3.57 billion in stock, with Yahoo! taking control on May 28.[4][22][23] The acquisition proved unpopular; users began to quit en masse in protest at the new terms of service specified by Yahoo! for GeoCities.[24] The terms stated that the company owned all rights and content, including media such as pictures. Yahoo! quickly reversed its decision.[24] During July 1999, Yahoo! switched from neighborhood and street addresses Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) for homesteaders to "vanity" URLs through members' registration names to Yahoo! (""). This service was offered previously only as a premium.

During 2001, amid speculation by analysts that GeoCities was not yet profitable (it having declared an $8 million loss for the final quarter of 1998), Yahoo! introduced a for-fee premium hosting service at GeoCities[25] and reduced the accessibility of free and low-price hosting accounts by limiting their data transfer rate for Web page visitors; since that time the data transfer limit for free accounts was said to be limited to 3 GB per month, but was enforced as a limit of about 4.2 MB per hour.[26] The paid accounts were later unified in the Yahoo! Web Hosting service, with higher data transfer limits.[27] During 2001, a rumor began that GeoCities was to be terminated; the chain e-mail making that claim cited a The New York Times article that stated the opposite.[28]


On April 23, 2009, Yahoo! announced that it would be terminating its United States version of GeoCities, and stopped accepting new registrations, though the existing GeoCities accounts remained active.[6] During late June 2009, Yahoo! updated the GeoCities home page to indicate: "GeoCities is closing on October 26, 2009."[5][29] GeoCities joined a long list of other services discontinued by Yahoo, such as Farechase, LAUNCHcast, My Web, Audio Search, Pets, Photos, Live, Kickstart, Briefcase, Webmessenger, and Teachers.[30]

With the termination of GeoCities in the U.S., Yahoo! no longer offered free web page hosting, except in Japan, where the service continued for ten more years.[31] Yahoo! encouraged users to upgrade their accounts to the fee-based Yahoo! Web Hosting service.[32][33]

Rupert Goodwins, the editor of ZDNet, perceived the termination of GeoCities as an end of an era; he described GeoCities as "the first proof that you could have something really popular and still not make any money on the internet."[31] Vijay Mukhi, an internet and cybersecurity expert quoted in the Business Standard, criticized Yahoo's management of GeoCities; Mukhi described GeoCities as "a lost opportunity for Yahoo!", adding that "they could have made it a Facebook if they wanted." Rich Skrenta, the CEO of Blekko, posted on Twitter an offer to take over GeoCities from Yahoo! in exchange for 50% future revenue share.[34]

In response to the termination, rival Web hosting services began to compete for the websites formerly displayed by GeoCities. For instance, German Web host Jimdo started the "Lifeboat for GeoCities" service to encourage GeoCities users to display their Web sites on Jimdo.[3][35], started by GeoCities competitor uCoz, is a similar project begun to save GeoCities websites.[36]

Many of the webpages formerly hosted by GeoCities remained accessible, but could not be updated, until 2014. Attempts to access any page using the original GeoCities URL are forwarded to Yahoo! Small Business,[37] while webpages within GeoCities return a HTTP 404 error.

Archiving GeoCities websites

Soon after the GeoCities termination announcement, the Internet Archive announced a project to archive GeoCities pages, stating "GeoCities has been an important outlet for personal expression on the Web for almost 15 years." Internet Archive made it their task to ensure the thoroughness and completeness of their archive of GeoCities sites.[38] The website also archived and is showcasing artifacts from GeoCities.[39] The operators of the website Reocities downloaded as much of the content hosted on GeoCities as they could before it ended, in an attempt to create a mirror of GeoCities, albeit an incomplete one.[40]

Another site which is attempting to build an archive of defunct GeoCities websites is[41] There is no formal relationship between GeoCities and, as it is a completely different company. Many sites were duplicated automatically from GeoCities to many months after the termination of GeoCities. also promised free hosting, and for 8 years this has been the case, as of January 2018. Other sites with this purpose were WebCite as well as now-defunct[42](closed 2011), and

On the first anniversary of GeoCities' termination, Archive Team announced that they would release a torrent file archive of 641 GB (prior to 7z compression, it was approximately 900 GB of data),[43] and did so on October 29, 2010.[44] On April 9, 2011, Archive Team released a patch for the first GeoCities torrent.[45][46]

Selected traffic statistics

The domain attracted at least 177 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study.[47]

ComScore stated that the GeoCities had 18.9 million unique visitors from the U.S. during March 2006. During March 2008 GeoCities had 15.1 million unique U.S. visitors. During March 2009 GeoCities had 11.5 million unique visitors, a 24% decrease from March 2008.[6]


During 1999, a complaint was instituted against GeoCities stating that the corporation violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act, specifically 15 U.S.C. § 45, which states in relevant part, "Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful." The FTC found that GeoCities was engaged in deceptive acts and practices in contravention to their stated privacy act. Subsequently, a consent order was entered into which prohibits GeoCities from misrepresenting the purpose for which it collects and/or uses personal identifying information from consumers. A copy of the complaint and order can be found at 127 F.T.C. 94 (page 94).[48]

GeoCities provided free home pages and e-mail address to children and adults who provided personally identifying and demographic information when they registered for the website. At the time of the complaint, GeoCities had more than 1.8 million members who were "homesteaders". GeoCities illegally permitted third-party advertisers to promote products targeted to GeoCities' 1.8 million users, by using personally identifiable information obtained in the registration process. These acts and practices affected "commerce" as defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission.[48]

The problem of GeoCities was that it placed a privacy statement on its New Member Application Form and on its website promising that it would never give personally identifying information to anyone without the user's permission. GeoCities sold personal information to third parties who used the information for purposes other than those for which members gave permission.[48]

It was ordered that GeoCities would not make any misrepresentation, in any manner about its collection or use of personal identifying information, including what information will be disclosed to third parties. GeoCities was not allowed to collect personal identifying information from any child if GeoCities had actual knowledge that the child did not have their parents' permission to provide the information.[48]

See also


  1. ^ McCullough, Brian (May 11, 2015). "DAVID BOHNETT, FOUNDER OF GEOCITIES". Internet History Podcast. Archived from the original (interview podcast) on May 28, 2015.
  2. ^ "Yahoo! To Acquire Geocities" (Press release). Santa Clara, California: Yahoo!. January 28, 1999. Archived from the original on May 2, 2006. Retrieved 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Marshall, Rosalie (April 24, 2009). "Yahoo closing Geocities web hosting service". vnunet. Archived from the original on April 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Yahoo! buys GeoCities". January 28, 1999. Archived from the original on April 7, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Fox, Geoff (July 10, 2009). "Yahoo Sets the Date of GeoCities' Death". Archived from the original on August 31, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Rao, Leena (April 23, 2009). "Yahoo Quietly Pulls The Plug On GeoCities". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on June 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  7. ^ Millian, Mark (October 26, 2009). "GeoCities' time has expired, Yahoo closing the site today". LA Times (blog). Archived from the original on December 21, 2012.
  8. ^ Shechmeister, Matthew (November 3, 2009). "Ghost Pages: A Farewell to GeoCities". Archived from the original on January 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Yahoo!?". Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ a b c "29 Neighborhoods". GeoCities. December 19, 1996. Archived from the original on December 19, 1996. Retrieved 2009.
  11. ^ "Visit these neighborhoods". GeoCities. February 9, 1999. Archived from the original on February 9, 1999. Retrieved 2009.
  12. ^ "GeoCities Marketplace". GeoCities. February 9, 1999. Archived from the original on February 9, 1999. Retrieved 2009.
  13. ^ [Staff recruitment]. GeoCities Japan (in Japanese). Archived from the original on February 21, 1999. Retrieved 2009.
  14. ^ Nao Iizuka (October 1, 2018). ?Yahoo!2019?3? ["Yahoo! GeoCities" to end service as of the end of March 2019]. CNET Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ [Notice of service termination]. Yahoo! Japan (in Japanese). Archived from the original on December 4, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ "". GeoCities Japan. February 20, 1999. Archived from the original on February 20, 1999. Retrieved 2009.
  17. ^ a b "Beverly Hills Internet, builder of interactive cyber cities, launches 4 more virtual communities linked to real places; SiliconValley, CapitolHill, Paris and Tokyo offer free homesteads to residents of BHI's 'GeoCities'". Business Wire. July 5, 1995. Retrieved 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Beverly Hills Internet, Builder of Web Communities, Changes Name to GeoCities; Monthly Page". Business Wire. December 14, 1995. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009.
  19. ^ "Advertising and Sponsorship Information". GeoCities. December 19, 1996. Archived from the original on December 19, 1996. Retrieved 2009.
  20. ^ Hu, Jim (June 28, 1998). "GeoCitizens fume over watermark". CNet. Archived from the original on August 5, 2009.
  21. ^ "Contact GeoCities". GeoCities. February 22, 1999. Archived from the original on February 2, 1999. Retrieved 2009.
  22. ^ Nuttall, Chris (January 29, 1999). "Yahoo! moves in on GeoCities". BBC News. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  23. ^ Narasimhan, Balaji (April 27, 2009). "The death of GeoCities". MID-Day. Archived from the original on July 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  24. ^ a b "Yahoo Angers GeoCities Members With Copyright Rules". June 30, 1999. Archived from the original on July 25, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  25. ^ Schiffman, Betsy (August 28, 2001). "A Community That Stays Together, Pays Together". Forbes. Archived from the original on July 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  26. ^ "Data Transfer". Retrieved 2010.
  27. ^ "GeoCities PLUS and WebHosting Starter". Archived from the original on November 23, 2005. Retrieved 2010.
  28. ^ "GeoCities Closing". Snopes. April 25, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  29. ^ "What if I didn't save my files and images?". Yahoo! Geocities. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  30. ^ "Yahoo! abandoning GeoCities". Calgary Herald. April 24, 2009. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved 2011 – via Reuters.
  31. ^ a b "Yahoo pulls the plug on GeoCities". BBC. April 24, 2009. Archived from the original on May 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  32. ^ Yahoo!. "GeoCities will close later this year". Yahoo! Help. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009.
  33. ^ Yahoo! (October 2009). "GeoCities Closing". Archived from the original on October 18, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  34. ^ D'Monte, Leslie (April 25, 2009). "Yahoo! writes GeoCities' obituary". Business Standard. Archived from the original on July 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  35. ^ "Jimdo's Lifeboat for GeoCities". Jimdo. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  36. ^ "GeoCities Shuts It Doors and Thousands of Sites Could be Lost, But There Are Other Options". Archived from the original on October 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  37. ^ "Geocities has shut down". Yahoo! Small Business. Archived from the original on July 4, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  38. ^ Internet Archive (2009). "Saving a Historical Record of GeoCities". Retrieved 2009.
  39. ^ Tech Crunch (2009). "Internet Archeology: In which the internet's sordid past is preserved and curated". Archived from the original on October 13, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  40. ^ "Welcome to ReoCities Archived 2009-10-29 at the Wayback Machine." Reocities. 2009. Retrieved on October 27, 2009.
  41. ^ "". Archived from the original on October 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  42. ^ "Geocities is Dead; An Archive Team Exhibit". Archived from the original on December 21, 2010. Retrieved 2013.
  43. ^ Scott, Jason (October 27, 2010). "Archiveteam! The Geocities Torrent". ASCII by Jason Scott. Archived from the original on March 8, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  44. ^ Masnick, Mike (October 29, 2010). "Archive Of Geocities Released As A 1TB Torrent". Techdirt. Floor64. Archived from the original on January 16, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  45. ^ "GeoCities Patch". Archived from the original on April 10, 2011. Retrieved 2012.
  46. ^ "Difference between revisions of "GeoCities Torrent Patch" - Archiveteam". April 9, 2011. Archived from the original on January 16, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  47. ^ United States. "GeoCities attracts almost 180m visitors online yearly". Archived from the original on December 20, 2011. Retrieved 2012.
  48. ^ a b c d "" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 11, 2009.

External links

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