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Taking a look back while we move forward

January 14, 2016

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We here at the Digital Team got our hands on the newsletter — complete with ’90s clipart — about the announcement and we had to share.

Newsletter for original Boston.gov site

The newsletter announcing the first launch of the City's official website.

Spring/Summer 1996: City's Official Web Site Unveiled

That was the headline for an internal 1996 newsletter announcing Boston’s first official website. The ceremony for the launch of the original website took place on Dec. 29, 1995, at the Rockingham Glen Senior Center Complex in West Roxbury.

We here at the Digital Team got our hands on the newsletter — complete with ’90s clipart — about the announcement and we had to share. It features a number of great nuggets, including a generous gift from Thomas Menino, the former mayor, of a new PC “complete with Internet connectivity” to the senior center.

The original website featured information that included: the City’s property valuation database; a calendar of events; an environmental blueprint; email the mayor; City Council offices; a guide to city services; and a virtual walk on the Freedom Trail. The City actually won an award in 1996 for its “Who Am I?” tool, which allowed residents to look up address-specific information about City services (Here’s what the site looked like in ’96).

As we continue to develop a more useful website for the City’s residents, it’s helpful to see how far we’ve come, and also how much hasn’t changed. Even then, the City was concerned about making sure all citizens had access to its services. The reason the City announced the website launch at a senior center was to illustrate that point. From the newsletter:

“It is one of my major goals as Mayor that this City not be divided into information ‘haves’ versus ‘have-nots,’ ” Menino said at the time.

Twenty years later, we’re still trying to help our constituents get the information they need in the easiest way possible. It’s a top priority for Mayor Martin Walsh and the City as we continue to develop Boston.gov.

Newsletter for original Boston.gov site

A look at the original City of Boston homepage from the 1996 newsletter.