Next time you’re driving through Oregon, take a detour to visit Half.com, America’s first .com city. It was bought by a company, Half.com, during the first Dot Boom. Years later, how has it fared?
- Design Observer: writings about design & culture – What Ever Happened to Half.com, Oregon? by William Drenttel
William tried contacting the town to see how they fared in this early Dot Boom deal:
Without an operative [town website] in place, I hit the phones, calling local businesses like the Clear Creek Farm Bed & Breakfast, the Birch Leaf Guest House, the Hillside Bed & Breakfast and the Halfway Supper Club: no answer anywhere. I assumed Angela’s Beauty Salon might be open for business on a summer afternoon — yet here, too: no answer. I left a message at Ronda Dillman Insurance Agency. Finally, I tried The Shop (”Need your car checked out? At The Shop, we don’t just work on cars, we fix them.”). A fellow named Gordon R. Kaesemeyer answered. He told me he was busy , but could give me a few minutes.
I asked him about the town’s decision to rename itself Half.com, which, Kaesemeyer told me, turned out to be a rather short-term arrangement. “We just passed a proclamation that lasted for one year.” I asked him whether the town actually got the money and computers promised by Half.com: “Yeah, we got our money and some computers,” he assured me. ” ‘Course that just caused some problems like money always does.” Encouraged by his answers, I thanked him for his time and asked him to put me in touch with Halfway’s mayor.
“That would be me,” he replied.
When you visit Oregon, you can see the sites in Portland and enjoy the skiing near Eugene, but finding a town that survived the Dot Bomb after being bought out by an Internet company is something that’s hard to find. Give Half.com a visit and enjoy the small town charm.