The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #96


A reader writes:

The highway in the photo appears to be a US Interstate. And the location appears to be non-mountainous. The foiliage indicates an area that is south of the northern US, but north of the southern US. Having just got back from a semi-cross country drive, the area reminded me of a particular city we drove through: Kansas City, Missouri.

Another writes:

This looks a lot like Oklahoma City, specifically the Bricktown portion of the city. If I had the time, inclination, and ability, I'd zoom in on the overpass section of the photo to see if there's a minor league baseball park hidden among those buildings and a rip-off of San Antonio's Riverwalk; but I don't. So that looks like I-35 running through the city, crossing the north fork of the Canadian River.


Oooooh, oooooh! Pleasant Point, West Virginia! It's the location of the Mothman sightings. This guess is based on the overall stubbiness of the buildings, the nearby river and bridge, and the fact that it would make for an interesting VFYW contest location.


My guess: Memphis, Tennessee.  The photographer is looking south at the I-40 bridge that crosses the Mississippi River (on the right) and lands in Arkansas.  You can see Mud Island and the old downtown.  We're also looking toward Beale Street and, beyond that, well beyond view, the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was shot, which is now the National Civil Rights Museum.  To the right, outside the frame, is the Pyramid, which, in my opinion, mars the Memphis skyline.

If I am right, I owe it to the fact that I just visited Memphis for the first time on a work trip.  I stayed at the Peabody Hotel (with the twice daily March of the Ducks), ate ribs more than once a day, and walked along the Mississippi.  And enjoyed the hospitality that is uniquely a feature of the American South.

Not Memphis, but we did feature the city a few months ago. Another reader gets it:

Thanks for throwing us an easy one.

I knew at first glance that this was Richmond, Virginia, a city I have never spent time in but have driven through many times and always marveled at the beautiful old train station right next to the interstate after the curve.

A visual entry:

Screen Shot 2012-03-31 at 12.28

Another reader:

Finally, one that I recognized within 30 seconds of viewing. This is an eastern view from the Bank of America building in downtown Richmond. Quiet a coincidence: I was on the phone with my dad, who lives and works in the area, when I saw the view. I used to live past the interstate on 18th and Main. The old train station is the red building to the left; just by the interstate. Jefferson's VA Statute of Religious Freedoms was signed in that first parking lot. There is a plaque commemorating it on a building nearby. The Virginia capitol building is just to the north west of the building. The James River is to the right. In 2003 there was tremendous flooding in the area by the interstate.


Screen shot 2012-04-03 at 11.39.39 AMI know this area well, having lived here after college before moving to DC. That area is known as Shockoe Slip – the downhill slope into Shockoe Bottom where all of the tobacco warehouses are and now the high-end lofts and restaurants. The clocktower of the old mainstreet station sits beside I-95 and welcomes people to the city. I was lucky enough to ride into the station when it reopened in 2003 working for then-Senator George Allen. Beautiful station.

Another sends the above photo. Another reader:

In the upper left, there is the steeple of St. Johns Church where Patrick Henry gave his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.  It's hard to point out, but the oldest Masonic Hall in the US is in the shot too. I've looked at this contest for years and would LOVE to finally have a shot.  Please, oh please!  Choo, choo, choose me!  (It is a train station after all that gave it away and I'm a coveted female reader.)

Another view of the station:

View from the car window - Richmond_Main_Street_Station_from_I-95_in_Virginia

The photographer adds, "As a kid driving with my family south to Florida, I was convinced we could indeed touch it as we drove by." Another reader:

Holy S*#t I GOT ONE!!!  Crap … you know what, I just realised … I got this one. That means it must be really easy and EVERYONE WILL and they all got their answers in way before I did.

A few hundred, in fact. Another reader goes for the exact window:

While I'm a long-time reader of the Dish, and an occasional e-mailer, I've never entered this contest before. I'm continuously amazed at your readers' ability to discern the exact window of a building with just the most miniscule of clues. But this 679408-Mediumone just seems impossibly easy.  Older American city meant East coast. On a river. Major highway, elevated, running through it. It took me all of 15 seconds of looking at the picture to realize that's I-95 right in the middle of downtown Richmond, VA. It was the red brick building with the steeple overlooking the highway that did it. I live in North Carolina and once or twice a year drive up to D.C. Downtown Richmond is one of the highlights of the trip as it breaks up the monotony of highway driving.

A couple more minutes of Google maps searching took me to the Bank of America Tower, looking Southeast, from one of the top floors. It's a 26-story building, but I'm not about to get into geometric calculations to figure the angle to the forebuildings. The only way to win this particular contest out of the myriad of really close entries is to make a non-obvious guess. So I'll say it's not from the top floor, or even the next, but the 24th floor. There's a law firm on the 24th floor, and I'm guessing that lawyers are more apt to read the Dish than other professions. It looks to be one of the skinny windows.  So I'll guess the middle skinny window in the third set of skinny windows from the left side of the building (see attached photo).

So close. Another nails the right floor:

Never responded before, but I grew up there, used to work a few blocks over and the shock of recognition was too much not to respond. So this is the view looking East at I-95 and Shockoe Bottom from the Bank of America building at 12th and Main. You can even see the ugly, beige aggregate material that they used for the façade of the building at the bottom of the photo. I'll just guess on the floor – 23rd?

Two other readers correctly guessed the 23rd floor, but only one of the three has gotten a difficult view in the past (last week's view of Puerto Vallarta, in fact) without winning. That reader writes:

Sometimes you get lucky.

I swore the reddish-brown building on the left was a church and scoured Google images for it, including going through a list of every Catholic cathedral and basilica in the southern half of the US.  The low-res image looks quite close in style to the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, NC.  My wife saw the train tracks, but we didn't put the two together.  Since the vantage point had to be at least 20 stories up and the trees were fully green, we finally just darted around big cities in the southern US on Google Earth until spotting the whitish domed structure that is the Richmond Main Street Station, of which my "church" is actually the main entrance.  The window itself is clearly in the Bank of America building at 1111 E. Main Street, facing southeast.  We think 23rd floor to get that kind of vantage point.

Oh, and based on the reflection, the photographer looks to be married.

The photographer is also a history buff:

The view is looking east from the 23rd floor of the Bank of America building – the offices of Sands Anderson PC law firm. 

The Union Army came along this route on the morning of April 3, 1865 after the Confederate Government, and Lee's Army, fled the City the day before.  The road on the left side of the frame is State Route 5 – in the City of Richmond it's Main Street, turning into Williamsburg Rd. and then, outside the City, it becomes New Market Road which is what it was when Grant's troops marched down it 147 years ago.  Retreating Confederate soldiers were ordered to set fire to armories and bridges on their way out of the City.  The resulting fires engulfed much of the City and much of the capital was lost.  City leaders made their way to Union lines and pled for help saving the City.  The Union Army put out the fire.

The highway cutting left to right across the frame is I-95 (south-bound travel is heading to the right).  Main Street Station, built in 1901, is the orange brick and teracotta roofed building just on the other side of the highway.  The little strip of water on the right-middle of the frame is an old canal that carried tobacco to warehouses along Tobacco Row.  They're mostly offices and condos now, but one of them is the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

The river on the far right is the James River named for King James I.  The James is navigable from the Chesapeake Bay right up to Richmond at which point the falls in Richmond, the country's only Class 5 urban rapids, made the river impassable to commercial shipping.  Richmond, you may know, got its name from planter William Byrd in 1737 who was struck by the close resemblance of the view from the falls of the James River to that of the River Thames from Richmond Hill.