Now Area51 (a treasure trove of sci-fi and fantasy and horror) and the rest of this digital underworld are finally accessible again in the Geocities Gallery. The restoration of all those pixels, MIDIs, fanfics and other relics of the ‘90s and early ‘00s are the work of Restorativland, who unearth what they call “abandoned web ruins” and bring them back to your screen. You can’t create anything else, but if you made a page about your Buffy and Angel obsession back in the day, it’s probably there.
Restorativland is “somewhere between a library and a living museum…working on experimental new ways to close the gap between archival and visibility of the web that was lost,” as they explain on their site.
Launched in 1994, Geocities let you build your own website based on anything from The X-Files to My Little Pony. It really was a collection of intangible cities, each of which had its own neighborhoods. Area51 was the home of realms like Labyrinth (obvious), Shire (obvious again), Lair, Portal and Dungeon, in which you could find such gems as Shirtless Star Trek or steamy Xena fanfics. Other cities included sports hub Colosseum and book nerd haven Athens.
What was that nightmare-inducing dancing baby anyway? It’s now seen as one of the first memes ever.
Geocities hosted 38 million websites before it went defunct in 2009. You could geek out on just about anything with other faceless geeks from everywhere and who knows where. The most awesome thing about it was that you could choose a city and neighborhood based on what your site was about. That still didn’t stop random sparkly fairy GIFs from ending up in what was supposed to be a place for blood and guts, but whatever. Everyone thought it had gone the way of emo hair until Restorativland breathed life back into it.
By the way, Restorativland is the same group that brought back MySpace Music for all you former scene kids and is working on reviving AOL Hometown, Geocities Japan, and FortuneCity. No word on Angelfire or Tripod yet, but who knows.