by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Good one! It has the feel of a Eastern European city, with an early 20th century factory predominating the scene. Currently boarded up on the upper floors, with new residential towers going up around it suggests rapid economic growth. It can’t be Europe though, given that the trees look a bit more tropical, and a flat-roofed building wouldn’t handle the snows of Eastern Europe. Never been there, but let’s take a shot at Nanjing, China. It’s a city that’s in transition from industry to residential. China’s as good a guess as any.
I’m a long time follower of VFYW, but I’ve never had more than the vaguest idea before (though it’s fun to guess). But this week’s looked instantly familiar to me. As a born and bred Yorkshireman, I’m convinced that it’s in the North of England, going by the tower blocks, the colour of the buildings, the grimly industrial feel, and the rain. I’d guess Sheffield (or possibly Manchester or Leeds) based on the hills, but I can’t get any more specific than that.
Well I have pretty much of nothing to go on this week except perhaps the split-type air conditioners that are pretty rare in the U.S. I wouldn’t put it past you guys to post a picture from Andrew’s trip, somewhere in Blighty, as he calls it. Perhaps one of his old haunts in London? Googling “blue balconies UK” was a lot of fun, as I’m sure some of your readers can attest. But the rest of my searches were fruitless. I think I’ll go back to the blue balconies.
My guess is probably entirely wrong, but this looks a lot like the University District in Seattle, facing east from a window a little to the east of Interstate 5, just opposite the Wallingford area of town. (Wallingford sits on the west side of I-5.)
That image looks familiar from my days at the Computer Science department at Ohio State University! The tall building in the background is Morril tower, the undergraduate dorm. The picture is taken from a window on the fifth floor or higher looking southwest out of Dreese labs. I’ve never been this close to identifying anything, so I never attempted to send anything in, but I hope I’m right this time!
If I had to hazard a wild guess, I would say East Berlin – the dilapidated buildings are consistent with the Soviet bloc.
It’s got to be somewhere in the former Eastern bloc – Moscow is just a guess. The building in the foreground looks to be of an older (i.e. pre-Soviet) industrial era, which was converted to offices or residences. The buildings behind look like typical socialist apartment blocks, complete with balconies converted to enclosed porches. And the tall buildings in the background look like contemporary apartment buildings for those prospering in the new economy and able to afford them. Nice pic(k) for a panorama of the changing social orders of the last 100 years.
This reminds me of the area in vicinity of the Oscar Schindler factory I saw while visiting Krakow.
With the combination of unkempt low Soviet apartment block and the soaring new towers, that looks a lot like the neighborhood I spent two summers in a few years ago visiting family in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Correct! Another gets more specific:
You guys must really get your sadism on by picking pics from areas without streeview! My first guess was some city in Poland, and in the course of my googling I quickly hit upon some random internet forum argument about which Eastern European city had the best skyline. Of the cities pictured in that thread, Kiev buildings had the closest “look” to those in the VFYW … who knew these inane internet conversations ever led to anything?!
After I saw this photo, the hardest part was finding the actual buildings, located a mile or two to the southeast of where the pic was tagged. It’s kind of hard to describe the window, not a lot of landmarks nearby, so I attached a picture. It looks to be like 7th or 8th floor, in the center of that building in the middle of the block bounded by Ivana Federova, Chervonoarmiis’ka (phew!), Dymytrova, and Anri Barbyusa Sts. This might be part of the nearby ?????? ?????? ??????? ??? or “British Motors Ukraine comrade” facility, which is what the first building seen is labelled as, or maybe it’s just an apartment building.
Another has been playing a while:
A first hunch said Kiev, based on the style of recent high-rise and the low hills. However, it being subject of VFYW contest #24, I couldn’t imagine Kiev being another VFYW. Still, being unable to come up with anything else, I threw in a Google images search for “kiev high-rise”, and, very lucky, it came up with a photo of the building with the weird roof on the right side of the photo on some apartment rental website. And, as that website was so kind to provide me with the address of that building, it was then relatively easy to locate the other high-rise buildings and then the building of the submitter.
See the map attached: red circle for the weird building on the right, the two orange circles for the other high-rise in the photo, and the green arrow for the building from where the photo was taken (with the older buildings in the front, ignore the A). Address unclear as it could be any of two or three streets, but it seems to be taken from the 5th floor (6th floor in US?) from the right side of the building (looking at the map).
Ironically, the photo of VFYW contest #24 has been taken at just three blocks, or 600 meters walking, from this week’s photo. A coincidence? See the second photo attached: the A for this week’s photo and the B for week 24. Though this week’s building should technically be visible on the other one, it seems to be too low to have made it. One apartment block in front of the weird-looking building seems also be visible on the other one though.
There were several wonderful and detailed answers this week, so breaking the tie was difficult. But the following reader participated in the contest the most thus far and got several correct, so the prize goes to him:
This photo may be proof that I should be careful what I wish for. For a long time I’ve been hoping for a contest photo from the former Soviet Union. This is clearly that. The buildings in the mid-ground are variants of khrushcheby, a Soviet neologism that combines Khrushchev and slum. There are also a few three-paned windows evident, which were characteristic of Soviet architecture. They were necessitated by the idiocy of a centralized boiler system that went full-blast from October to April, regardless of the weather. The two largest panes were typically glued shut in the winter. The third pane, usually a small square in the upper left, was left unglued so it could be opened in case of warm spells.
Because there appears to be a hill in the background, my first thought was Moscow’s Presnya district. But the picture doesn’t correspond with anything I can find on a map. So I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is right-bank Kiev. Khrushchev was chief of the Ukrainian Communist Party after the war, and was a patron of the sort of cost-conscious architecture evident here. Admittedly, these aren’t the most ubiquitous forms of khrushcheby, which were made from pre-fabricated concrete panels starting in the mid-1950s. But many of the initial experiments that Khrushchev sponsored in Kiev were with “large blocks.” Khrushchev describes these efforts in his memoir.
I can’t locate the exact vantage point of the photo, but I’d guess it was taken in the vicinity of Olympic Stadium, perhaps from a building in the courtyard between ulitsa Dymytrova and ulitsa Ivana Fedorova. It’s a southeast view, I think. Please see the attached photo:
I’ll feel really foolish if this turns out to be Edmonton.