The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #82


A reader writes:

Oh come on, a random small factory in the northern US?  That really narrows it down! OK, OK – I'm guessing the hint is that the warm weather in December so far means that a lot of locations are eliminated from contention, since a number of areas that could have had snow by now (Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York) really haven't seen it.

The dominance of deciduous trees rules out much of the mountain west where snow has fallen, so this has to be the midwest or northeast.  It really does scream "old New England mill town" to me.  Given that only the northern reaches of New England have seen recent snow, that narrows it down to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  My stab-in-the-dark answer is Lewiston, Maine.

Another writes:

The picture gave me Vietnam-style flashbacks. Four years ago today I was spending my Christmas working the Iowa Caucus for a candidate not named Hillary, Barack, or Senator Cheats-on-wife-with-cancer. I think this is Cedar Rapids, Iowa, because of all the refining plants.  (For some reason, the whole city smelled like Crunchberries and burnt tires.)


Bradford or Silsden, Yorkshire, England? Could easily be one of my grandfather's factories, battered by Hong Kong in the fifties and Japan in the sixties, put out of their misery by the Chinese in the seventies.


This is a photo of Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood, going West toward Clipper Mill. I’ve walked by it many times. It is one of the last of the old factory buildings that haven’t been fixed up yet. (Give it time. It will be yuppified.)


The chimney is obviously the same where Charlie and his grandfather almost met their doom with the fizzy lifting drinks.

The building to the left is where the chocolate river waterfall and the edible candy garden are located. The building behind the smokestack is where the glass elevator came out. The VFYW shot was obviously taken from the third floor of the center building and I've included some diagrammatic arrows to prove it:


And as a side note, the original is now on Blu-Ray! Wrap that up with the book and stick them under my tree!


After going 0 for 80, I finally got one last week.  So I was determined to start a new streak and go 2 for 2.  I thought I was on the right track when I found images of Safety Kleen's oil truck.  Alas, after checking their website, it turns out they are a national company.   Tricky.

Comparing the recent weather charts for snow against Safety Kleen's location map, I'm narrowing the location to New England.  Based on the brick color and the type of chimney, the buildings feel like adaptively reused historic mills from the late 19th century.  Since there is no visible river and there are suburban/country houses in the background I'm eliminating more industrial cities like Lowell and Lawrence, Mass, which tended to have larger mills.

I'm going with one of the cities in southern New Hampshire that had historical mills. I'm guessing Manchester.  (In honor of your favorite conservative rag, The Manchester Union Leader.)

Another gets the correct state:

This picture reminds me of a time I got lost in upstate New York and drove through the quaint town of Canajoharie. There was a pseudo-industrial area where Beech-Nut Baby Food had been manufactured for 100+ years. The factory vaguely resembles this picture, with brick buildings, a smoke stack, and small mountains in the background:


Also, the factory seemed to be right next to some residential housing, as is the case in your picture. On the other hand, your picture seems to feature a pick-up truck driving on the left side of the road, so I don't have high hopes.


100 N. Mohawk Street, Lofts at Harmony Mills, Cohoes, NY 12047?  I have never written in before, but this time I was SURE it was in upstate NY. I thought, I wonder what that tanker truck is, maybe it will give me a clue? I Googled "red and black tanker truck logo" found Safety-Kleen, looked up their locations, and found one in the old factory town of Cohoes, where my husband grew up. Google mapped it and voila! I showed it to my husband, after my searching, who said, "That looks like Harmony Mills!"

Of the three readers who correctly answered Cohoes, only one has gotten a difficult window in the past without winning, so he gets the prize this week:


I have no doubt that there will be many vying for the correct view on this one due to the New York state location. I turned my wife, who was raised in New Jersey, on to The View awhile back and she has helped me identify a correct view in the past. In this case, she woke me the morning after Christmas day and said, "Do you want to see what I found?" It seems that in the middle of the night, when she couldn't sleep, she was searching for textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts after seeing your photo on Christmas Eve. After quickly deciding it was not Lowell, she moved on to another location and eventually found a photo of the Harmony Mills that showed a match for the smokestack. Although I was hoping to sleep in a bit longer, I got out of bed, grabbed my laptop and sure enough, she had found the mill complex where The View photo was taken. Specifically, it was taken from the The Lofts at Harmony Hills, 100 N Mohawk Street, I believe from the 5th story, 5th window from the end:


The building, constructed in 1866-1868, was originally known as Harmony Mill No. 3 and also Mastodon Mill, due to remains that were discovered during construction. It is now part of the Harmony Mills Historic District. According to on-line sources it was the largest cotton mill complex in the world when it opened in 1872. The attached photo from the NPS archives is from 1869:


Details from the photo's owner:

This shot is looking out from my apartment in what was once one of the mills in the Harmony Mill complex in Cohoes, NY.  My building was Mill No. 3 (there were five mills running at the peak) and you are looking out on the left at what was the original Mill No.1 and the power house that was built later on.  The mills produced cotton cloth and thread and, at their zenith in the mid to late 19th century, were the largest such mills in America.  The original Erie Canal ran through what is now the parking lot you see below and side channels with water turbines ran wide leather belts which drove the spinning machines.  The power house was built later when the mills were converted to electricity.

Cohoes is know as the "Spindle City".  The movement of industries such as these in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the South devastated cities like Cohoes.  Where once 3,000 people worked in harmony Mills alone (there were other mills nearby that produce cloth, etc – Arrow Shirts were made here at one point, along with celluloid collars in nearby Troy) you now find a sleepy little town that serves more as a bedroom community for the Albany capitol region.