Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A Little History Concerning The Historic Pelham Web Site

Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of the Historic Pelham Web site located at https://web.archive.org/web/20111005005055/http://historicpelham.com/. Today's posting will provide a little of the "history" of the site.

In about 1998 or perhaps a little before, I purchased my first copy of Microsoft's FrontPage software. At the time I was intensely involved in advising clients on what was then called "CyberLaw" and I began collecting research on the topic of Internet securities regulation and organizing it using the FrontPage software.

In 1999 I published to the Web my first Web site at https://web.archive.org/web/19991224223649/http://www.cybersecuritieslaw.com/. The site was an extraordinarily large one (several thousand pages of content) devoted to the topic of Internet securities regulation. I updated it almost daily given the quick pace of change in that area of the law during the so-called Internet Bubble. The site attracted a very substantial amount of traffic and a lot of attention in the legal press -- so much so that in 2000 I was approached by a legal publishing company known as Glasser LegalWorks. The firm bought the site and asked me to remain as "Editor-In-Chief" of the site. I continued to play that role until early 2003 when Glasser LegalWorks folded the site and its contents into a Web site that the firm administered for R.R. Donnelley, Inc. located at http://www.realcorporatelawyer.com/. I was asked to continue my service as editor-in-chief -- but as editor-in-chief of the RealCorporateLawyer Web site. I have continued my service in that capacity since that time, updating that site every business day and continuing the practice of preparing and distributing monthly "E-Zines" on the topic of corporate governance and securities regulation issues.

In addition to all this, since early 1999 one of the many administrative responsibilities that I have held in addition to my ordinary responsibilities at work has been the responsibility to oversee the staff responsible for my law firm's Web site located at http://www.simpsonthacher.com/. In this regard I have overseen -- and been responsible for -- three "redesigns" of that Web site performed by outside consultants.

My work with the CyberSecuritiesLaw, Simpson Thacher and RealCorporateLawyer Web sites taught me a great deal about the Web and delivery of information via Web sites. Among other things, my experience with these sites drove home the importance of the old adage that "content is king". I continue to believe to this day that quality and quantity of content is far more important than site promotion for the vast majority of small, personal Web sites out there.

In 1999, at about the same time that I published my first site to the Web (CyberSecuritiesLaw.com), my wife and I decided to move our family to Pelham. Well before the move I threw myself into the task of researching and documenting the history of that lovely little town. By the time we moved to Pelham during the first week of January 2000, I already had a good grasp of the general history of the area and already owned a handful of books and pamphlets relating to that history that I had purchased via the Web.

I was struck by the fact that although Pelham's history was so rich and extensive, it was very hard to find information about it on the Web. As I had done with the CyberSecuritiesLaw Web site, I began to organize all of my research on the topic of Pelham's history (e.g., prepared outlines, jotted notes, organized my thoughts) using Microsoft's FrontPage software hoping to develop it into a Web site on the topic. I continued my research in this way for almost three years, amassing a tremendous amount of data broken down -- essentially -- into the categories that you see on the site today including, among other things, the following: bibliography, biographies, links, maps, memorials, Pelham in Court, photog catalog, place names, post cards, societies, timeline, virtual tour, etc.

In December, 2002, I contacted a colleague who had been involved in one of the successful redesigns of the Simpson Thacher Web site. He was moonlighting through the establishment of a small Web design, hosting and consulting firm known as InternetComeAlive, Inc. It's site is located at http://www.internetcomealive.com/. I hired him to create a "template" page design for me from which I could then construct a Web site. I emailed several things to him. I sent him a digital photograph of the green and gold Village of Pelham welcome sign facing One Fifth Avenue at the Pelham Train Station telling him that I liked the colors and lettering on the sign and would like to see him create a design inspired by those colors and that lettering. I also took a series of digital images that I had created including images of the Church of the Redeemer Bell in front of the Daronco Town House, a scan of a photo showing the Toonerville Trolley "skippers" Dan and Louie in front of the trolley, an old engraving of Pelhamdale, an image of the Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885 and a photograph I took of the Pelhamwood Clock Tower. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to string the photos into a strip and asked my colleague to work them into some form of banner to appear across the top of each page.

The same month he sent me his first design. I looked at it, told him it was absolutely perfect and that absolutely no changes needed to be made whatsoever and paid him promptly for his very handsome work. The design remains the same today and, hopefully, will remain so for many years.

I spent the next three months engaged in very intense work to apply the design template to all of the content I had prepared. The work was intense and I recall spending many late nights working away at it. I wanted to "unveil" the site as the first commemorative event in honor of the 350th Anniversary of the signing of the Pell-Siwanoy Treaty in 2004.

I contacted a company known as DellHost to arrange registration of the domain name and hosting of the site. All of that was done on March 19, 2003. (It still took me about two days to get all of my work formalized, formatted, and published to the DellHost servers.) DellHost subsequently sold its assets to PureHost and I continue to use PureHost today.

By March 21, 2003, the site was up and running, but I was the only person in the world who knew that. I sent e-mail messages to about a dozen of my friends and registered the site with Google and Yahoo! After that, I simply let things proceed on their own.

Since that time, the site has been mentioned in the print edition of The New York Times twice and has won several awards. Traffic has grown significantly, as well. In its first year, the site delivered 116,913 "page views". A page view occurs when someone "visits" a page on the site and their browser makes a call to the hosting server asking for the files required to assemble a "Web page" for the visitor to look at.

Traffic increased in the second year. During the twelve months from March 21, 2004 until March 19, 2005, the site delivered an additional 140,100 page views. Thus, in its first two years of existence, visitors have looked at pages on the site more than a quarter million times!


Post a Comment

<< Home