The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #145

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 3.59.30 AM

A reader takes a stab:

Some Eastern European city, height-restricted buildings, possible government tower (exempt from the restiction) on the horizon, with a tower crane, other cranes nearby. Possible train station roof below. Possible pre-Communist city reconstruction building from which the picture was taken. Aside from the gargoyle-faced building, nothing in the picture looks to have been built prior to about 1960, which again makes me wonder if this isn’t in some city that was either re-built after Dubya Dubya Two, or was the work of one of those Great Leap Forward-type master plan. The sky is grey, the buildings are grey, the people IN the buildings moods are grey …


This picture was taken just before the photographer flung himself over the edge. He was overcome by the sheer drabness of the view, and thought that his dead body would add, at least, a little touch of the unexpected to an otherwise banal, horrid place. His family, while quite distraught, quickly realized that this view could be in almost any city and vowed to remain exurban.

Another has a more specific guess:

The view from your window is located in Washington, DC.  The picture is looking westward and is overlooking Union Station. In the background is First St.  One of the buildings is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission I think.


OK, the second I looked at this picture, I thought “Austin” because the building in the center of it looks an awful lot like the UT Tower and I think I see the Castilian dorms nearby. A photo of Austin seems like a logical picture for you to post this week, given that SXSW is wrapping up this weekend.


It’s a very tough photo, and I don’t see any landmarks of Buenos Aires, but some of the buildings could definitely be from there and the mix of old buildings with newer ones it’s pretty typical. In addition, the blue small structure you see on the right could be one of the newspapers’ kiosks you see everywhere in the city. And finally, since the new Pope is from there, that’s what I’m going with for this week.


The construction project in the deep background is probably the best clue. I searched online for skyscrapers under construction. After I delved a little deeper in to the promising ones, I’m guessing it’s the Shanghai Tower. The incongruous architecture in the foreground also suggests Shanghai, as the city is host to a surprising number of historic buildings. I would try to be more precise, but Shanghai’s images on Google Earth are full of smog. I think this contest is giving me an asthma attack.


Normally I don’t actively participate in the contest, but instead just read the award entry on Tuesday afternoon. This week, though, I had a really strong hunch that this was my hometown of Bangkok, Thailand. I did most of my growing up there before moving to the US for college. Now that I’m in medical school, I don’t get to go home as often, so it might just be a figment of my imagination that the building off in the distance is Baiyoke Tower 2, which I believe is the tallest building in the country.

The picture was taken from somewhere near one of the BTS train stops. I couldn’t figure out which one in particular, though, so I called up Mom and Dad who still live in Bangkok, and asked them to drive around the city trying to figure it out. They declined to do so.


I came up with this guess in less than five minutes.  Whether or not I’m right, at least I had a plausible chain of reasoning.  The glimpse of parapet in the foreground reminded me of Gothic towers in Western Europe.  But buildings in the background are all modern.  So I started thinking about places in Europe where the old city was destroyed in WWII and was subsequently replaced with new construction.  That brought me to Dresden, Germany.  With a quick check of Google images, I found a picture of Dresden Station – which has long, arched roofs that seem to match those in the middle of the contest picture:


Another gets on the right, er, track:

We appear to be looking out over the kind of railway station roofing that’s very common throughout the railway approaches and termini of central London: Liverpool Street, Waterloo et al. And the grime on what appears to be ornate 18th or 19th century stonework in the right foreground is very familiar to anyone who’s lived in London. And is that the Nat West building in the distance? I fully expect to be wrong by well over 10,000 miles.

More like feet. Another gets even closer:

The roof in this week’s picture strongly suggests a current or converted railway station. The Musee d’Orsay in Paris was my first thought. It doesn’t appear to be it, nor any of the other Paris train stations. Given the size of the station (if it actually is one), the old stone of the building from which the photo was shot, and the density of the build-up around, the location is probably in the center of a major European city, one of the classical stations from the heyday of trains. I didn’t find an exact match searching between Rome and Glasgow, but will guess St Pancras Station in London.

Correct city. Another zeroes in:

Scottish ex-pat in Silicon Valley and first-time VFYW entry! This one just screamed “London railway terminus” at me. Why? The foreground old roof with lead flashing reminds me of so many British rooftops. The juxtaposition with the modern buildings in the background and the arched roof (almost certainly over a railway station) just screamed London at me. First thought was St. Pancras, but a quick Google proved me wrong. Victoria? Bingo!

The photo is taken from the Grosvenor Hotel, overlooking the roof of Victoria Station, looking towards the buildings on Bridge Pl. From the height of the buildings, I would say something like the 5th floor counting with the British convention starting with the Ground Floor. I’ve circled my guess at the location on the enclosed pdf.

Grosvenor Hotel it is. A visual entry:


Another reader:

This will be easy for any London commuter so I assume you’ll get loads of responses. That’s the double arched glass canopy roof over the platforms at Victoria station, taken from up on the roof of the station building looking south-east towards Vauxhall.  I’m sure you’ll get loads of bods from the Torygraph giving you the exact location of where the photo was taken – their headquarters are in the office block above the station concourse.

You can see the Vauxhall tower in the distance with the crane on top – that’s the crane that was recently hit by a helicopter in heavy fog, with crane and helicopter coming down in the carpark of our Sainsbury’s on South Lambeth Road.  Our houseboat is moored on the Thames between that tower and Battersea Power Station. Best wishes from the UK, and keep up the great work.

Another visual entry:


Another reader:

Amongst its various amenities, the Grosvenor Hotel offers the “Cora Pearl Experience” – an homage to the “infamous 19th Century Parisian Courtesan.”  Born to a humble background working as a street prostitute, Pearl eventually found wealth and notoriety as the companion to the rich and powerful of Europe – including Prince Napoleon and Prince Willem of Orange.  There’s also a cocktail named after her, the “Tears of Cora Pearl” – the only recipe I can find says that it is comprised of vodka, creme de cacao blanc, Domain de Canton, fresh strawberries and topped with champagne and 23 carat gold leaf.  I was going to say that I might celebrate with one, but like Cora Pearl herself, is probably a bit too rich for my blood.

Another visual entry:


Another reader:

As a railways enthusiast and employee of Deutsche Bahn (German Rail), I was determined to solve this week’s VFYW upon seeing the unmistakable roof of a large train shed. Not immediately recognizing the surrounding buildings, I was able to quickly rule out Germany (I’m quite familiar with all of our train stations and their surroundings). Something about the modern architecture and the density said “London” to me, and being familiar with most of the city’s train stations I started my search there. St. Pancras was clearly out – its single-span train shed could not be mistaken for the two spans seen here. Neighboring King’s Cross was a possibility – it sports a two-span shed but a quick look at the adjacent buildings allowed me to rule it out as well. My next guess was Victoria, and lo and behold, the buildings matched!Screen shot 2013-03-16 at 6.46.48 PM

Then it was just a matter of finding the precise location of the photographer, who must have been standing on a roof of a neo-classical building on the side of the trainsheds opposite the buildings seen here. That pointed me to the Thistle Grosvenor Hotel. Counting the ribbing on the roof of the train shed helped me line up the photographer’s location along the parapet of the hotel. I’ve marked my estimation of the location in two of the attached photos, with the third showing the buildings seen in the background of the VFYW shot.

For what it’s worth, I’ve previously identified Boston, MA (September 2010), Warsaw (March 2012), Depoe Bay, OR (May 2012), and Bethany Beach, DE (July 2012), but have yet to win a contest. I also think that working for Europe’s largest railway company should earn me an extra point, should you need a tie-breaker!

The tie-breaker this week goes to the reader who guessed the room closest to the actual one:

This is my third hit in four weeks … either I’m getting the hang of this, or they’re getting easier! The grey architecture and even greyer weather suggested Britain to me, and as a British expat I’d feel fairly ashamed if a missed a British VFYW. The building in the foreground is clearly a train station, and so a few searches got me to the Grosvenor Hotel, near Victoria station in London. Based on photos on the web of the Grosvenor, I’m saying the room is one floor from the roof, which by my calculation will put the room in the 500 range. Room 601, according to a photo on tripadvisor, is at the northern end of the building, and from the same source room 421 is on the western side, so I’m guessing around room 514.

Details from the submitter:

This is taken from Room 508 of The Grosvenor Hotel, adjacent to Victoria Station, London. The wonderful thing about these back rooms is that the station roof muffles the sounds, such that the public address announcements sound like the adult voices in “Peanuts” cartoons – “wah wah weh wah weh…”

The best visual entry this week:

Grosvenor Hotel VFYW.002

One more reader:

I’ve always been curious to see if the Dish team could find good contest views from otherwise well known cities like London and I think this one hits the spot. On a personal level, I love that it was taken at Victoria Station. As a kid my family had a set of decorative porcelain houses called Dickens Village which we would display at Christmas, and one of them was a miniature Victoria Station. That little station helped form my childhood image of London, and although in real life it proved far less adorable, it’s still the first train station that pops into my head when I think of the city.

Attached is an Ebay image of that miniature, marked bird’s eye views and an aerial shot of the hotel and station from way back in 1945:

Victoria Station Miniature - Copy