The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #127


A reader writes:

Bars, hills, green leaves: South America.

Another is more specific:

I think this picture was taken in Mexico City, or some other high altitude city in Latin America. First, the big mountain in the background that seems to have densely developed structures on it (this excludes most North American cities). Second, the trees still have green leaves on them in early November (this excludes most cities in the Northen US and Canada). Third, the metals bars on the windows and the steel security fence in the foreground (this excludes most North American cities). The dense smog also makes me think this is Mexico City.


This looks a lot like Quito, Ecuador, where you can see the mountains from everywhere.  I'm sure several readers are going to nail the exact street, but I've got to go knock on doors for Obama here in Michigan instead!


Mt Etna, Europe's most active volcano, is in the background. The only major airport in that whole area of Sicily is near Etna and when the volcano gets too active it smokes up the sky and closes the airport and you're stuck.


My 9-year-old daughter and I picked Florence, Italy.  It was the second place that popped into her mind. Chicago was the first, but I told her that we don't have a lot of mountains around here, so she picked Florence second. By the way, she also thinks that Romney is going to lose.  You heard it here first.


Tough one this week! Except for the fortunate few who were born in the shade of that mountain in the distance and recognize it on sight. Of course, I'm not one of those people. The cranes suggest a growing economy, though, and the apartment buildings remind me of Taiwan, so I'm going to guess this is somewhere in the Beitou neighborhood of Taipei. This is admittedly a shot in the dark, so here's hoping it's right.


If I am right it would be the most bizarre thing in my life.

Last week we were in Istanbul with my wife (unlike me, not a Dishhead); when I saw the previous VFYW, it looked exactly like the view from our hotel. I thought of entering the contest, but decided "Naah"… It turned out that it was indeed from a hotel next to our hotel on Marmara. Got so excited that I tweeted about it and shared with my wife, explaining to her the VFYW contests.

Here's where it gets interesting: we're back to our apartment in Sofia and wife says, why don't you send the view from our own window, with Vitosha in the background. So, I am thinking about it, and then – boom!  I see this new entry today, that looks exactly like a Sofia landscape with Vitosha in the background. In fact, it looks like a view from Ivan Vazov, which is the closest neighborhood to ours, Lozenets. So if I'm correct, then that is the most bizarre series of coincidences that have ever happened to me. If I am wrong, then it is a perfect illustration of the biases that our brains play on us.

Biases this time around. Another reader gets close:

The ziggurat-like building in the background immediately reminded me of Mosul, which has Saddam-era hotels built like that.  I knew from everything else in the photo that it wasn't Mosul, but boy do I wish it was plausible for Mosul to be doing so well.  It brought tears to my eyes to think about the tragedy of it all, something hasn't happened in a couple years now.


I'm going to say this is in Tehran, Iran, just because that is how it feels. Never been there, but I've seen it in movies. Some enterprising person will probably get this with pinpoint accuracy using Google Earth, but I don't have that kind of patience or obsession. So I'll just go with my gut.

Good gut – Tehran it is. Another is more certain:

I immediately recognize this view as the northern "suburbs" (not nearly as suburban as it once was) of Tehran, Iran. The white tile buildings, tall iron fences, telephone poles, and the view of the Alborz mountains in the background were a dead giveaway. Finding the exact location is quite tough because we don't have Google Street Views for Tehran, but I believe the highrises in the background are that of the posh Elahiyeh neighborhood. The view is looking northwest from an apartment off of Shariati street between Qeytarieh and Elahiyeh neighborhoods.


First time player. For the past two weeks, my VFYW instincts have been spot on (quite to my utter surprise). I have a pretty strong hunch this week as well, so I'm going to give it a go. Sprawling city, nestled right up against a starkly elevated mountain chain. Neither First- nor Third-world, but squarely in between. Yellowing trees seem to indicate that it's early autumn, so Northern Hemisphere (but not too far north, or otherwise the leaves would have already fallen). Doesn't look like Bogota (the mountains in the background are too high and appear too arid), nor does it look like Caracas (for the same reasons).

The next city that comes to mind is Tehran. This high-res (zoomable) photo from Wikipedia looks fairly encouraging (is that the same distinctively shaped building from a different angle?):


And this amateur video tour of Northern Tehran, although not particularly helpful, does at least contain a multitude of cranes (as in the View). Off to Google Earth. (My first time using it as well.) I'd like to be able to identify that distinctively shaped building, and then hopefully start zeroing in on the general vicinity from which the View was shot. 

[Three hours later]

So much easier said that done! It doesn't help that I entirely lack spatial reasoning skills. Since I'm not getting any further traction (but am getting a massive headache), I think it's time to throw in the towel.  I'm sticking with Tehran, and will even say somewhere from the fashionable and affluent Elahiyah district, since this appears to be where many of the Western embassies are located (not that your Iranian readership is restricted to embassy workers).

About a dozen people went with the Iranian capital city, but the winner this week was the only Tehran guesser to have correctly answered a difficult view from a prior contest (several, actually):

I'm not going to win this time, as I've been too busy with work and election stuff, but I'll at least put my hat in the ring and note that this is clearly somewhere in Tehran. I got there almost immediately in a weird way. I looked at the fence, figured it looked like it was trying to keep people out. And having just seen Argo, I took a flyer and googled "US Embassy Tehran", and, amazingly, bingo on the fence:


Looking around at photos, this seems like a pretty common fence design for Tehran, and I don't think it's anywhere in the embassy compound. From the angle of downtown and the mountains, the shot looks like it's taken from a private residence or small hotel, from the SE part of the city where all the embassies are. But that's as far as I've had time to get.

Congrats, we will send out a book right away. From the submitter of this week's view:

I've been a long time Dish fan. I divide my time between San Francisco and Doha. I just spent a month in Tehran, my hometown, and here's a picture from my apartment in Tehran. Our apartment in Northern Tehran, near Nobonyad Circle, once surrounded by trees is now smack in the middle of the headquarters of various military branches! Even though Tehran has a terrible problem with air quality, I found the pollution to be slightly less than it was seven years ago, much of it due to the little parks that have been created in every available street corner. In the month that I was in Iran the value of the Rial dropped as if in free fall but contrary to reports in the media, there was no shortage of food, chicken in particular! The stores were very well stocked but it seemed that all the prices doubled overnight.