The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #57


by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

United States, based on the cars (the dock has what look like American trucks) and handicapped parking slots. My wife saw pool cabanas like these at a DC hotel, so it seems likely to be American.

The green Sennebogen crane is from a German company and not that common in US. This sent me all around the nation: Peru, Illinois; Charleston, SC; but none of these locals seemed right. I also see barges and a tug that looks like a pusher. Pusher tugs are typically found on a river, throwing me off track a bit. In the background we see what look like sailboats, indicating a more diverse boating community than that which we see near the pool. This speaks to a middle class that one might find in an urban-suburban area.

My first thought is that it’s along the St. Lawrence or Great Lakes, just from the color and a sensation the photo gives me, but it seems wrong from the vegetation. Vegetation does not sing West Coast, lacking fir trees of NW or live oak-golden hills of California.

Sun orientation: shadows indicate noonish at angle not too close to vertical, more like the 40s latitudes at their angle of insolation maximum – end of June – therefore river or estuary at this location on an east-west axis. More than enough sites in Boston area for such a locale. Color of water takes me to a more northern estuary river system, so New England works better than more southern systems. Less sediment loading, as we would find in a more southern river-estuary.

I pick the Boston area, for the Fourth of July.

Another writes:

So I lack the patience and talent exhibited by so many of your readers, and I already have the book, but I can’t help chiming in here. This almost has to be Buffalo, NY. I’m sure a number of places have small harbors adjacent abandoned grain elevators, but this looks too familiar. And isn’t that fuzzy cluster of tallish structures in the background Hamburg, NY’s five or so windmills?


I’ve only ever gotten one of these right (the view from Olin Library, Washington University), and I don’t ordinarily guess (except in my mind), but this looks so much like one of the lakes made when the Tennessee River was damned up by the TVA.  I grew up on Wilson Lake, but this isn’t Wilson.  I’ll take a stab at it and say Pickwick Lake (which meanders between Tennessee, Mississipp, and Alabama), but I’m picking the Alabama part of Pickwick out of loyalty to my home state.  I know there will be a precise winner, but I’m too tired after watching my seven-year-old son play three back-to-back baseball games (in 95 degree Georgia heat) to dig around for something more precise.


I’m a fourth generation Torontonian, currently living in Washington, DC. Those five silos to the left look like the Canada Malting Company silos located near Queen’s quay on the Toronto harbourfront. I did some searches, however, and the buildings around the silos don’t quite match up with pictures of the area. Still, I’m sticking with Toronto harbour, because I have no better guesses.


I have a sneaking suspicion that this location is near Cape Canaveral, FL, especially since the final shuttle launch is starting to make headlines and is on schedule for later this week. The handicap parking spots, cars, and marina suggest an American location near a coast line or peninsula. The vegetation and warmth suggest a southern coastal state. The vague industrial towers deep in the background might be a shuttle launch pad scaffolding or whatever. Alternatively, the location might be on a lake somewhere, but I’m more inclined to guess that we’re looking at someone’s vantage point on the Cape Canaveral area. Perhaps Cape Canaveral is too obvious, so I’ll go with Merritt Island, FL, USA.

A surprisingly large number of readers guessed along those lines. Another writes:

Having grown up on the banks of the Mississippi near St. Louis and traveled the length of the river going north, this photo had an immediate familiarity when I saw it on Saturday – the grain elevator in the background, the foliage of the deciduous trees in summer. I’ll be stunned if this isn’t the upper Midwest along the banks of the Mississippi, which is the only river in the US with this type of width. Hell, I can almost feel the humidity.

Alas, my boyfriend and I were occupied Saturday/Sunday with Orgullo (Pride) in Madrid over the weekend, and while of course I had every good intention of searching for grain elevators adjacent to bends and marinas on the Mississippi for hours (not!), he’s now asking me if I have guessed again since we sent you a picture from Madrid last January that you used. Sheepishly, I confessed no, so before the deadline tomorrow I’m giving it my best guess. The upper part of the Mississippi in Minnesota has numerous naturally occurring lakes on the river, which explains the expansive water view, so I think it’s somewhere up there between Red Wing and LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and I’ll go with Lake City, Minnesota.

In the right area. Another:

Ok, so: much like the Duluth window, the evident lack of tides or big waves here makes this an inlet or lake. Again, like Duluth, let’s say maybe it’s a Great Lake. That also makes that a cement terminal, not a grain terminal. Again, like Duluth.

So I picked a city – Manitowoc, WI – that has a cement terminal and a marina more or less next to each other on the shore, didn’t worry about whether they’re situated correctly or not, and definitely didn’t worry about those odd black and white structures next to the swimming pool. This was not a weekend to spend scouring Google Maps for this spot. Could be elsewhere in WI, could be Michigan, could be a lot of other places.

Closer. Another:

This photo has a Michigan “look” to it.  The sky, clouds, and water remind me of my native state, which is dotted with lakefront hotels, resorts, and recreational facilities, hence the pool and the marina with the small boats.  The flat land and the trees made me think of a place south of Mackinac Bridge, so we’re under the bridge and therefore in troll territory.  While the body of water looks modest, the presence of a major dock and grain silos indicate proximity to the shipping lanes of a Great Lake.  Careful consideration of the coastline leads to the city of Muskegon, and your photographer was looking west from within the Shoreline Inn and Conference Center (750 Terrace Point Boulevard), which overlooks Muskegon Lake:



I believe this location is of my old home town Muskegon.  I recognized the building in the mid-ground on the far left, as that is where they used to (and possibly still do) do laser light shows on the 4th.  In fact, the window this was taken out of will give whoever is staying there a fantastic view of the 4th of July’s fireworks. To break it down even more, the building this was taken had to be the northern facing of the Shoreline Hotel (Ah, Wedding Night memories).


The Shoreline Inn is a newly constructed hotel located at the southeast end of the lake on the site of a old foundary. I moved to Muskegon from the Boston area and my parents frequently stay in the hotel when visit, although I doubt they submitted the photo.  Muskegon Lake had pollution problems in the ’50s and ’60s but is now quite clean and well known for fishing and sailing. The lake freezes over in the winter and is used by hundreds for ice fishing. My office is located about 400 yards from the hotel and I submitted a VFYW picture of Muskegon Lake in winter as the ice was just beginning to form.

Here is the afforementioned photo, excavated from the Dish inbox:

Muskegon, Michigan - winter morning


Hurray!  Another Great Lakes coastal shot.  I guessed the Duluth one in about 5 seconds, but this one was not obviously in Wisconsin and definitely not in Minnesota or other Lake Superior locations (too flat for the North Shore).  In fact, I wasn’t sure where to look next, as it is not on open water but rather in a sheltered bay.  The background contained a commercial port facility with silos (for grain or other material), so it was not an inland site.  I found the location within 15 minutes of searching a couple of combos of “marina, silo, great lakes”, then got a hit with “great lakes marina pool”.

Here is a stock aerial of the marina. The photo is taken from the Shoreline Inn, which is the large building in the aerial.  I’m going to go with one of the penthouse rooms, possibly The Tuscany (Room 1011).  Here is another shot from that room, and likely that window, but angled to the right of the VFYW:



Thank you for tossing your frustrated readers a bone. This was an easy one.  It took me only 20 seconds in Google Earth to verify that this picture was taken from a west-facing window at the Shoreline Inn in Muskegon, MI. Though I grew up in a different Michigan harbor town, the colors of summer foliage and fresh water are far better than a madeleine. I’ll leave it up to a more diligent reader to determine the exact vantage point.

The following reader was the most exact guesser and correctly guessed a difficult view in the past without clinching the prize, so he wins the contest this week:

Grain silos, water, vegetation that looks like something in the north … water … probably somewhere along the Great Lakes. Well, thanks to Google Maps (and according to my wife, way too much time spent on the computer), this photo is taken from the Shoreline Inn, 750 Terrace Point Blvd., Muskegon, MI. I would think that it’s from the eighth floor, room 812.

Room 901, to be precise.