A reader writes:
I've never entered the contest before – I'm not that well traveled and have no patience to pick up miniature street signs and auto makes and research them. But I'm going to guess Reykjavik just because of the bent trees, as I recall reading in a trashy Tom Clancy novel that it's very windy there.
A lonely Louis Sullivan-style narrow skyscraper, circa 1900, but the older buildings around it are replaced with 1980s-era high rises. A light rail system. Seems a dead ringer for downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.
At first, I thought it was a northeast or industrial midwest U.S. city. Then I noticed what looked like a bus or light rail stop, with a green roof in the lower right corner. A search of Google images showed that Portland's light rail system has similar stations. I couldn't pinpoint the exact address, but the building in the background looks like the Benson Hotel.
Another Portland guesser:
Recognized the architecture right away, but not sure of the exact location – definitely in the Pearl District, maybe near Amtrak train station? My boyfriend and I live in Poland, but we go to Portland almost every summer and love it – Powell's bookstore, great microbreweries. It's an easy place to satirize (ala "Portlandia"), but it really is a great American city.
This one is driving me absolutely nuts, because I feel like I should be able to get it.
This is pretty clearly North America (a pickup and a Cadillac or similar car, parked in the city). It is also immaculately clean, meaning either somewhere in Canada or one of only a handful of American cities. Assuming the picture was taken recently, I have to assume it is somewhere temperate, which probably rules out everywhere in Canada except Vancouver or Victoria. The space between the parked cars suggests we're somewhere not too terribly crowded … probably a Western city, but not in California. There are trees, and it looks pretty flat … not Seattle. Is that light rail in the lower right corner? My first impulse is Portland, Oregon. It really looks a lot like Portland, but I've spent a lot of time there and cannot seem to find this spot on Google Maps. It could be Denver, or Salt Lake City. I'm going to go with Denver, and hit send, so I can get back to work now.
Another reveals the right city:
That's Memphis, Tennessee, downtown somewhere. Not sure of the exact block, but I recognize the trolley shelter in the middle of the street.
A musical interlude for Memphis:
This is the first contest I've ever even had a chance at! And that's because I just moved to Memphis, and stayed right on Court Square Park while I was interviewing. This is photo was taken looking south down N. Main Street. On the left is Court Square Park; you can see part of the famous Peabody Hotel (where they have the daily duck procession). You can also see the kiosk for the downtown trolley. Most likely the photo was taken from a window in one of the hotels on the square – possibly the Marriott or SpringHill Suites.
Footage of the famous ducks:
OK, some good clues in this one. Clearly the United States or, less likely, Canada. A fine turn-of-the-century Romanesque Revival building in the foreground with "…R BUILDING" visible. A couple of early 20th-century skyscrapers in the background. A trolley or streetcar stop with additional streetcar infrastructure at the bottom. The architecture suggests St. Louis or Chicago, but the foliage suggests someplace farther south (I'm not sure if it's a VFYWC policy to feature only recent photos).
My immediate hunch was a medium-sized city in the midwesterny South. My initial search of US cities with streetcars took me, briefly, to Memphis, but the evidence was not strong enough to keep me there. I then decided to try to nail down the foreground building, and I eventually found myself on a marvelous site called skyscraperpage.com, a database of the world's skyscrapers. After a bit of tweaking around with the search parameters, I found it: The D.T. Porter Building in Memphis, also known as the Continental Bank Building.
From there, it was a piece of cake to identify the hotel from which the photo was taken: The SpringHill Suites. It appears to have been taken from the third floor at the northeast part of the building. Image attached. (I correctly guessed the sixth floor of the Morocco Golden Tulip Farah a couple weeks ago, so maybe I'll win this time around. If not, I'll soldier on
Another who guessed SpringHill Suites:
Luckily someone keeps track of all American cities with street cars. From there it was easy.
Another shifts to a neighboring hotel:
I've been trying forever and I finally got one! I've never been to Memphis; but after an hour of googling "trolly wire stanchions" and "downtown trolleys" I found an image similar to the distinctive trolly stop and wire support in the lower-right corner of the window. The photo is taken from a window on the south end of the Courtyard Marriott Downtown overlooking Court Square. I'm guessing it's the 5th floor window that I've circled in the attached Google Earth image:
Since this is my first correct answer I'm sure someone who has previously identified a harder image will get the book. Or one of your readers in Memphis will run over to the hotel and get you the exact room number. No worries. I'm on the board.
Another zooms out a bit:
Another sends the reverse view:
The building with arrows in all three photos is actually the Sleep Inn, not the Courtyard Marriott Downtown, which is adjacent just to the north. GoogleMaps seems to have mislabled the Sleep Inn in this overhead map, but the StreetView photo of the building with the green awning and roof is clearly attached to a "Sleep Inn" sign. Another reader gets us on the right track:
The picture was taken from a south-facing window of the Sleep Inn at Court Square. The Sleep Inn has six floors, and this was probably taken from the fourth, fifth or sixth floor. If I had to guess one of those, I would say the fifth. I'm also guessing that it was taken from the eastern-most window facing south.
On the right in the picture is the SpringHill Suites by Marriott – or at least a portion of the north side of it – which is also on Main Street at Court Square. The Main Street Trolley stop is partially shown in the bottom-right corner. The brick building shown in the center is the ten-story Dr. D.T. Porter Building, Memphis's first skyscraper, built in 1895.
I lived in Memphis for five-and-a-half years, during and after law school, and that included a year-and-a-half of living downtown. I walked up and down Main Street everyday to work. I haven't lived in Memphis for nearly eleven years, so thanks for the opportunity to remember those fond times.
Yes, as the reader indicates, SpringHill Suites is also owned by Marriott, further adding to the confusion among readers and yours truly. Another view of the Sleep Inn, from ground level:
Looks like 6th floor, south end of the building, looking out at Main Street and Court Square. I sometime get my hair cut at Rachel’s, which is inside the three windows visible at the bottom of the building at the center of the photo. If the photographer looked to the right, you’d see Confederate Park, and beyond that, Jefferson Davis Park (both in city that is majority African American), and beyond that, the Mississippi River.
The sixth floor is correct, according to the reader who submitted the photo:
Just back from some travel and was looking forward to a contest view … then I saw I can’t play because you are using my submission. This may be relatively easy for people from Memphis, so you may have to pick between submissions by precise location. Let me be as accurate as possible: This photo is from the sixth floor hallway window at the south end of the building (not the sixth floor elevator lobby). I was planning to send another picture from the lobby when I wrote my note, but when I went to attach it, I saw that it captured a little too much of the square and the trolley line – so I sent the one from the end of the hall that was harder. My goal was something a bit harder than that Boston suburb light-rail view that had 500 winners – but not so hard for those who know their American downtowns. I look forward to seeing how many get it and hear some good Memphis stories.
Another who nailed the right floor:
I just tried to call the hotel and weasel my way into getting a room number and didn’t get anywhere. Kind of hard to explain which room I’m looking for based on a window in a picture, and I didn’t want to bother the guy too much! Even if I don’t win, I had a good day spending time with my sisters and brother, enjoying a 72 degree December day, and finally figuring out a VFYW!
Awesome! Finally a contest I know! As a frequent Dish reader, I am always amazed by how some readers use such seemingly insignificant attributes in a photo to determine the exact location of a window somewhere in the world. Luckily for me, this week I didn’t have to do that at all. Saturday afternoon I opened the VFYW Contest post on my Google Reader app on my phone, and realized that I was looking at a view that I had seen on my walk to work only a few hours before.
The picture was taken from the hotel behind my office building, the Sleep Inn in Memphis. I went over to the hotel yesterday to try to find which window it was taken from. I am almost positive that it was taken from the window in the hallway directly outside of Room 627. (If the people staying in hotel rooms 427, 527 or 627 saw me me out of their peepholes, they must have have found me very odd).
If this picture had been taken recently, this wouldn't have been a very tough contest. As you can see from this picture I took yesterday, the leaves have fallen off of the tree that was blocking the name of the building in your picture. It now pretty clearly reads "Dr. D.T. Porter Building."
The fact that the leaves were in the contest picture but are no longer there reminds of my favorite (until now) VFYW Contest, whose picture I submitted a little over a year ago while I was a senior at WashU in St. Louis.
Of the handful of readers who answered the sixth floor of the Sleep Inn, only one has gotten a difficult window in the past (several, in fact). His entry:
This could have been a tricky one this week if you couldn't identify the metal roofed shack and the overhead wires as a streetcar stop. First thoughts led to Portland but the street lamps just never matched up. A bit more lazy Sunday trolling of cities with streetcars finally led to Memphis.
Congrats, we'll get a VFYW book out to you shortly. Another reader supplies more fun facts about Court Square:
1) In 1895, when it was built, the Porter Building was the tallest building in the world with a circulating hot water system.
2) Mayor David Porter was known for bringing a modern sanitation system to Memphis.
3) A painting of a similar scene, from street level, won Chattanooga-based artist Katlee Shank third place in an art show in 2007:
4) Court Square was the site of the first Occupy Memphis action.
5) The Sleep Inn was criticized by a disgruntled customer in 2003 with "The carpet was moist."
I am sure others will offer opinions on the holy trinity of downtown Memphis tourism – Rendezvous Barbeque, Beale Street, and the ducks of Peabody Hotel, all of which are only a few of blocks from this location. In fact, had the photo been taken from inside the room at the end of the hall instead of the hallway, we may have gotten a peak of the Building from scraps here and there on the web, which (if true) I found interesting:
Designed by Edward Culliatt Jones and built in 1895, The Continental Bank building was the first (steel-frame) skyscraper south of St. Louis, and was the first building in Memphis to boast an elevator. Memphians would pay 10 cents to ride the elevator to the top of the building. Many were so frightened by their ride to the top that they would take the stairs down.
The Continental Bank failed in 1898 and was bought for $175,000 by the heirs of Dr. D.T. Porter, who renamed the building to honor Porter. Dr. D.T. Porter began his career as either a physician and/or a pharmacist, but amid a yellow fever epidemic and financial turmoil that caused Memphis go bankrupt, lose its charter and also much of its population, Porter was elected by the public and/or appointed by Tennessee Governor Albert Smith Marks as President of the Taxing district. This position included the functions of mayor, recorder and commissioner of the Board of Public Works. He worked in this capacity for 2 years, resigning in 1881. During his two years in office he made a substantial start toward the general clean up of Memphis and the installation of a sewer system.
During the Great Depression the Porter, and also the nearby Sterick Building, experienced foreclosure. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and was renovated and converted to apartments in 1982-83. One of the neatest things about the building is the cotton mural on the south side of the building.
Seen above. Another sends a stunning sketch:
Last but not definitely not least:
I can't believe how excited I was to see the VFYW contest this morning. I knew immediately where it was. I live in Memphis, and that yellow building building in the left side of the picture houses the Blue Plate Cafe, one of my favorite brunch places in Memphis. I take all of my out-of-town guests there. It faces Court Square to the north, and the green awning on the ground to the west is the trolley stop. To the right of the picture is the Marriott Springhill Suites, where my parents stay everytime they come visit me and my husband. We got gay-married in Memphis, by the way, at the First Congregational Church in Cooper-Young, where we live, and it was amazing.