Because of the popularity and longevity of the site, GTA Warehouse has been officially recognized by Rockstar Games on many occasions. Our website address is mentioned in the instruction manuals for GTA3, Vice City, and San Andreas, there is a link to GTA Warehouse on various Rockstar websites, and we have been formally invited to and attended events organized by Rockstar held in New York City and Los Angeles.
GTA Warehouse has been serving the GTA community since October 26, 2001. Started by Josh Powers of San Antonio, Texas, and originally located at gta3warehouse.com, it quickly became popular enough that Rockstar Games listed GTA Warehouse in the back of the user manual for the PC version of GTA3 as one of their favorite GTA fan sites. Of all the sites listed, GTA Warehouse is one of only two that are still active in some capacity.
In February 2002, I purchased Grand Theft Auto 3 based solely on word-of-mouth. Luckily, my local Best Buy was careless enough to sell a mature-rated title to a 15-year-old. I had never played any of the previous top-down GTA games so I had no idea what the game was about, nor what to expect. I became enamored with the open-world concept, and a few weeks later, while searching for cheat codes and mission walkthroughs, I found a website called GTA3 Warehouse which was fully stocked with all of the information I needed.
After reading through some of the topics, I joined the Warehouse forum on April 5, 2002 with the intention of spamming the discussion about the "7 lifts" and how I had "figured them out", but something made me change my mind and not act like yet another n00b. Instead, my first post was in response to some guy who was insisting that the color of the Banshee in the opening cutscene was grey. I called him colorblind because it was obviously green, like the other green Banshees that are in the game. Later, I actually tried the 7 gang cars theory, much to the chagrin of the community as nothing happened.
After a few weeks I became more accustomed to the forum and had earned myself a reputation. Josh was hardly online, an influx of new members brought boatloads of spam, and there was nobody to clean up the mess. Josh came back sometime in June and appointed then-moderator Armageddon as an administrator, along with Tattooboy, Lips of a Moose, and RowleyXLT to do some housekeeping. In response to spam topics and flame wars of legendary proportions, bakircioglu created a signature for himself, famously referred to as "The Jacket", which depicted Claude shooting an FIB agent with the names of the worst spammers on his back.
Towards the end of June the website had some serious problems. Load times were sluggish, even for a dial-up connection, and the 10x10 icons used throughout the forum were instead loading as 640x480 screenshots of GTA3. The site eventually went down completely in early July. I decided to get everyone back together, and through the magical program that was America Online 5.0, I stayed in close contact with gta_king, ColombianCartel, Spaz, Peahole, and Lionheart631. I started scrounging up some content to use for a small website, much like Josh had done 9 months earlier.
On April 5, 2003, one year to the day that I had registered for the original GTA3 Warehouse forum, we moved the site onto the current domain, gtawh.com, and began improving the look and functionality of the homepage. A few months later came another major redesign which would ultimately influence all of our future designs, especially since now that the forum's color scheme matched the homepage.
On October 13, 2003, we switched from YaBB to Invision Powerboard as our forum software supplier, and the skin we chose provided us with what would become our main color scheme. I updated the style on the homepage to match the forums, and we soon after received our one millionth cumulative unique visitor to the gtawh domain.
Blast from the Past
On November 14, 2004, I received an unexpected email that without even opening it made time seemingly stand still. Josh had found this site and was equally shocked to see that it was still online as I was to see that he was still around. Flooding in San Antonio was reported coinciding with Josh's disappearance from the forum, and some members believed he was in the area. Alive and unsaturated, he had the following to say:
I have recently taken in GTA: San Andreas after a long leave of the series back in GTA 3. I have become fascinated with the game and decided to go for 100% completion. Looking around the net, I was astonished to come upon your website and notice - it looks a LOT like the one I used to run (www.gta3warehouse.com)! Amazed, I frantically looked for an About link and found the History one, and nearly fainted when I saw the website was indeed a spin-off of mine!
I congratulate you. I never thought of my website as more than a little side project. I remember hitting ~500 hits a day, but it was nothing compared to the giant of the time, www.gta3.net. The work involved in running the website solo was overwhelming and I gradually let the site die off, busy with my normal life, and getting over-run by the high costs of bandwidth. That's pretty much what went on until I pulled the plug. I am grateful too see that you cared enough about the website to keep it going. It is an excellent source of information, and I wish you luck in the future. I thought you might just appreciate to hear from me. If you have any questions, please, feel free to ask! I hope to hear a reply from you.
I replied to his initial email, and we had one additional exchange before communication ceased. I attempted to reach Josh a few more times, but ultimately his email address returned as undeliverable, and further avenues of search were dead ends.
After hosting troubles abounded from frequently exceeding our monthly bandwidth caps, we accepted a dedicated hosting offer in early July of 2005, where we remained for 11 years. In exchange for the server we were required to place two ads throughout the site, which prompted another redesign to accommodate them. A little over a year later we freshened up the design by making it less image-dependent. This refresh would end up being the longest-used design, as it served as the face of GTA Warehouse for almost five years.
While not much had been happening on the site during the downtime between the major releases of San Andreas, GTAIV, and GTAV, a lot has been going on behind the scenes as far back as 2007. I was flown out to Seattle courtesy of Microsoft when the first Crackdown was about to be released. There, I, along with numerous others from the Xbox community, took a tour of the Microsoft campus, including the Xbox LIVE Operation Center. While this was a pretty cool experience, it pales in comparison to what Rockstar Games has done for us.
GTA Warehouse was invited by Rockstar to come to New York City in April 2008 and check out GTA IV before it was released; then again in 2009 to preview The Lost and Damned and Red Dead Redemption; in 2010 for a hands-on experience with Episodes from Liberty City PC and Chinatown Wars; in 2011 for a weekend in Los Angeles playing LA Noire; in 2012 to play Max Payne 3; and finally in 2013 for a first-look at GTA Online. Accommodations of the highest caliber were provided by Rockstar and no expense was spared.
Out of Gas
Leading up to the launch of GTA V, adult responsibilities had began gradually steering my focus away from maintaining the site. At this point, the explosion of social media had made smaller communities like ours obsolete, especially with the Rockstar Social Club now harboring all of the info that back in the day you'd only find on a fan-site like this one.
When we received the inevitable word that our server deal was expiring, it was bittersweet. I moved the site onto a small shared hosting plan with our long-time registrar. Eventually, Google Domains became a robust enough platform that I transferred the domain over there and set up this new microsite, saving me over $100 in annual hosting costs.
At the same time I set up the site with Google, I decided to check if the original GTA3 Warehouse domain was available. I had looked into this periodically since the site had gone offline back in 2002, but it was always registered to some massive domain squatter and displayed a spam link farm as a placeholder page. It just so happened to finally be available, and I was able to acquire the same domain that I had found almost two decades ago which set in motion all the events you've just read.
As I update this article, I'm reminded about all that we were able to accomplish as a community - at one point we were among the top 50,000 visited websites on the Internet according to Alexa - and how many friendships it helped create.
GTA Warehouse many things for many people, plenty of whom I can still call friends today. For me, it was an after-school hobby that grew into something much larger than I could have ever imagined. It helped steer my career path, and has allowed me to go places and do things others could only dream of - and it all started when Josh Powers decided to keep his website online for a few extra months in 2002.
Oh, and Nestea341 is banned and dead in a river somewhere. Yay.
Last Updated February 21, 2021
Original affiliate button.
Original site banner.
GTA3 Warehouse linked on official GTA3 website.
GTA Warehouse linked on official Vice City website.
GTA Warehouse linked on official San Andreas website.
GTAWH printed in the instruction manuals for GTA3, Vice City, and San Andreas.
I received an unexpected email from Josh in November 2004.
Warehouse vet bakircioglu's forum signature listing spammers.
One of the CEO office themes in GTA Online features the Los Santos skyline as a wall mural in a convincingly familiar style.
San Andreas Christmas 2004 hero image.
San Andreas New Years 2005 hero image.
I used GameShark to replace the Rhino in the tank spawn cheat (so the cars wouldn't de-spawn) for each gang car.
After 6 restarts, I finally had all 7 gang cars permanently on the 7 lifts, and of course nothing happened.
More historical images to come as we dig through our archives...