Web Relic Showcase: GeoCities NorthPole

NorthPole community page
The NorthPole community page as displayed on Internet Archive

Neighbourhood name: NorthPole
Year created: 1996
Year abandoned: Unknown
URL: http://web.archive.org/web/19961221000658/http://www.geocities.com/NorthPole/

Before the elimination of GeoCities neighborhoods, homesteaders were given 41 different places to categorize their webpages, based on community and interests. In 1996, there were only 29 neighborhoods. For a short time in 1996, a temporary 30th neighborhood called “NorthPole” was created for the Christmas season.

The remains of NorthPole are scarce, as the community page has only been partially recovered on the Internet Archive. It contains more broken links than anything else. Most of the working links take users to Christmas-themed GeoCities homepages that were submitted to NorthPole. Other working but incomplete links lead to the NorthPole “Holiday Chat”, a holiday recipe contest page, and a page that showcased a live webcam image of GeoCities’ Christmas tree.

The most interesting thing about NorthPole is how aside from this archived page, there is barely any information about what it was. Despite being a neighborhood page, it’s unclear as to whether or not sites could be created under the NorthPole name, or if it was just a directory that led to Christmas-themed pages from other neighborhoods, as shown in the archived page. While there’s no official date of removal cited anywhere, it is likely that the community was taken down once New Year 1997 came along.

Christmas themed GeoCities site
Screenshot of a page linked from NorthPole’s community page

1996 wasn’t the very first Christmas on the web, but as the Internet grew in popularity, it would be the first Christmas on the web for its 20 million newcomers in that year. For any user who loved Christmas and signed up for GeoCities, decking the halls required less work when it could be done on a computer using a few graphics and some knowledge of website creation.

You have to admire the creativity that came with creating these Christmas-only pages, even if there was no way they would be kept frequently updated. If you were someone who loved Christmas and had an Internet connection, this was your chance to go wild with your Christmas aesthetic. Background MIDIs never had so much relevance on a web page as they did on a Christmas-themed page.

There were only so many Christmas-themed websites live in 1996, and it was likely that at least the majority of them would either not be updated year round, or become abandoned after Christmas passed. Due to this, it’s understandable as to why NorthPole wouldn’t remain online, and perhaps the lack of sites is a reason as to why GeoCities did not create any new holiday neighbourhoods in the years to come. Despite this, NorthPole was a portal for newer Internet users to realize just how creative they could be on the web at any time of year.

merrychristmas
A nice greeting

Did you ever have a holiday-themed GeoCites page? Share your story in the comments.

Have a suggestion for a future post? Have a net memory of your own that you’d like to share? Send an e-mail to thenetstorian@gmail.com.

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Author: The Netstorian

Internet culture enthusiast and creator of The Netstorian.

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