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East Harlem.com turns 12 years old

By Jose B. Rivera

Photo of the Birthday cake (from Savoy Bakery)East Harlem - February 25, 2008. Jose B. Rivera, founder and webmaster of East Harlem.com celebrated another year and another milestone. East Harlem.com celebrated it 12th year of existence. It’s hard to believe but the local community website has been around since 1996, when the web was young and practically without any graphics. Browsers did not deal with graphics back then. East Harlem.com was begun when Mr. Rivera failed to get a community newspaper off the ground. “The costs were too high”, said Mr. Rivera. “And when the web presented itself I saw it for what it was, an opportunity to publish with a lot lower costs. I did take one chance however, that people would even use the web.  The web was young and only academics and nerds knew of and use it.”

Growth
Mr. Rivera remembers looking at his first statistics and seeing 12 whole hits a day.  “It took a few years, but eventually more and more people became aware of the website to the point that it now gets 525,000 hits a month or serves about 116,000 pages a month.  About half from college students doing research for classes. 

East Harlem.com has grown in other ways over the years too.  It has added a Discussion Forum, Guestbook, Photo Gallery, and Events database.

Other Sites
And the website is not the only East Harlem community website.  It was joined by local community activist Marina Ortiz’s Virtual Boricua and the more recent East Harlem Preservation,  Sadly, another site, MiBarrio.org was discontinued.  This write hopes that it’s absence is temporary.

East Harlem.com has been on the news twice (once on MSNBC and once on NY1) and its photos have been used to look for grants, in wine publications, text book covers and various college reports. It also mets the students of both New York University and Columbia School of Journalism.  The webmaster has also hosted various student visitors throughout the years.

The Future
The website will continue to provide news about the East Harlem community.  With new features to come “online” soon.  If there was one thing the Mr. Rivera would change would be to have more contributors writing for the site.  Various students have written some stories in the past and Mr. Leon Tulton has been a great asset too, writing numerous stories.  But it would be nice to have different points of views and a lot more activity on the Discussion Forums.

How long can Mr. Rivera keep the site up?  “Well money is not an issue, but time is. And I   need to find more time and energy to devote to the website.  Here’s to another 12 years, who knows what the web will look like then” adds Mr. Rivera.

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