by Chris Bodenner

vfyw_8-24

A reader writes:

What do we have to go on? Boxy architecture, A/C units, and radio towers as far as the eye can see. So it’s a warm climate that’s not very affluent, but still forward enough that people can afford air conditioning. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess a suburb of Jakarta. (I’m probably completely wrong and this is Venezuela or some other Central or South American country, which was my other instinctual reaction.)

Another:

Post-Soviet concrete, plus lots of antennae and cisterns – and an abundance of balcony foliage and reckless power lines. I’d put this somewhere in Anatolia, Turkey. And since Syria might be getting some more public attention this week, I’ll say it’s Gaziantep.

Another:

This has to be Japan, and somewhere reasonably north, judging by the winter sky and vegetation. There’s no other clues to its location other than the large number of masts in the background. It looks like Tokyo, and there’s a US communications station in Fuchu, so I’m going to guess there.

Another:

Isn’t it the dream city at the end of Inception? I think the buildings are about to fall …

Another:

I have no idea what city this week’s VFYW shows, but I am just glad I don’t live there.

Another:

A tough one with not much to go on. I can’t wait to find out what city it is and if anyone can guess the actual window. I’m guessing Barcelona, Spain. And since I’m guessing, and it’s a big city, I’m going with the Ciutat Vella neighbourhood. The only things I had to go on: 1) I thought the city had a vaguely European or possibly South American feel – based on the flower boxes and some architectural clues. 2) It obviously has weather extremes, as there are lots of chimneys and A/C units. 3) It appears to have water issues, as there are several water tanks visible. With that little bit of information I deduced Barcelona, but for the life of me couldn’t find the right view. I found a few that were close but missing the cell phone tower (and a map of cell phone towers for Barcelona didn’t help, as there are well over 100).

Another reader:

Arrgh!

I’ve gone from Albania to Romania to Moldova to Lebanon … I think I’m settling on Athens, Greece. I’ve been, but not long enough to have a solid memory of this kind of vantage point. It’s the only place I’ve found with windows that look right on buildings that are densely packed enough, along with the stair-shaped buildings. Pictures of Athens seem to feature more awnings over apartment balconies than I see in the contest picture, but I am drained. Athens! The window is a needle in a haystack, but if I had to guess I’d say somewhere in the Zografou area.

Another:

I know this is Beirut – it just has to be! There aren’t any discernible clues to my eyes in the photo – so it COULD be somewhere like Istanbul or even somewhere in Eastern Europe. And one has to consider, if you did Amman last week, why would you choose another neighboring city in the region like Beirut. But I know the city skyline in Beirut, and a considerable portion of it (especially in the suburbs) looks like that. The difficulty is pinpointing an area of the city. I’m going to guess Hamra Stree area in downtown Beirut just because some of the apartments in this photo look pretty nice and upscale – which is typical of this area. This is only the second VFYW that I have entered and I’m finding it a challenge!

Another gets in the right area:

I’m pretty sure this is São Paulo, Brazil because I live there. Looks like a decent neighborhood, but I don’t know more specifically.

Another nails the right country and city:

The photo shouted out Latin America, and closer inspection gives clues that this is Buenos Aires, Argentina (BA). Aside from the traditional and heavily built-up urban aesthetic, the barren vines on the lot-line wall on the left indicate this this is their comparatively mild winter. The balconies at the high-rise to the right are installed right up to the corner – a Latin-American speciality – while the location of several ACs in through-wall sleeves at the center-right building is a particularly New York City approach that harks back to the first buildings retrofitted with air-conditioners, something only likely in a city that was already highly urbanized in the ’50s. Finally, I recall from my youth reading National Geographic that BA is a city spiked with these funny sorts of television towers spaced at odd intervals, and recent photos confirm that this is still the case.

Now as soon as Google gets around to driving their Streetview vehicles around BA’s streets, uploads and stitch together all of the views and includes it in their maps, I’ll be able to tell you where exactly this is. Unfortunately, since my lovely wife isn’t patient enough to have me look through the thousands of user-submitted Google photos of BA (apparently this thing called “dinner” is calling), the best I can do today is look at the wide expanse of city in the background, observe the shadows from the sun in the north, and conclude the view is taken in the southern part of the city; I’m guessing the neighborhood of Constitucion.

Am I close?

Very close. Another guess:

The balconies full of plants make me think of Buenos Aires. I lived there for seven months and that is one of the strongest lasting visual impressions I have of the city: green in every balcony. The lack of Victorian-era architecture makes me think it’s the outskirts as opposed to the city center. The prevalence of air conditioners would put it at one of the richer suburbs. Shot in the dark: Ramos Mejia.

Another gets the right neighborhood:

I believe this is Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina. I know because I am here right now on vacation and it is sunny and cold, and this sort of all-floor apartment building architecture is very common.

Another:

I’m fairly certain this is Buenos Aires, though I suspect identifying the precise window will be fairly difficult even for your most skillful VFYW maniacs. The entire central part of the city has a skyline that looks very similar. I’m leaving from LA to Buenos Aires on Monday. When I arrive there Tuesday I’ll look for the exact location.

One of the earliest winners of the window contest – #9 from Sarajevo – nearly gets the exact location:

I haven’t entered one of these in a couple of years, but I wanted to write because I recognized it in about 5 seconds. This is a view from relatively high up in a building in the lower 1600 block of calle Montevideo in Recoleta, Buenos Aires between Guido and Quintana, looking North-East. (Unfortunately, Google Streetview has not made it to Argentina, so I can’t identify the exact number.)

Last November, my husband and I stayed at the Algodon Mansions, a couple of doors down the street, during our honeymoon. It was fabulous. Best memory is probably lingering over a sublime steak at a parrilla in San Telmo before stumbling on one of the local gay clubs on the way home and stopping by to demonstrate Gangnam Style to some rather befuddled locals, staying out to 6am – first time in about a decade!

The clear winner this week:

I’ve never submitted to a VFYW competition and I’m amazed by the investigative powers (and time commitment) of your readers who do. But I had to submit this time, because this picture is clearly Buenos Aires. I’m from New York, but I live in BA part-time for work. The architecture, strung cable lines from building to building, the nature of the sky – they all scream Buenos Aires. I also pretty quickly guessed Recoleta, given the architecture (I myself live in Palermo Soho, and it doesn’t look like this).

Having narrowed it down substantially, how does one go about getting an address and even perhaps a window location? There are not a lot of landmarks to go by – a couple of cell phone towers. I’ve been through the experience of living in temporary apartment rentals here, researching the apartments online. They often have shots out the window or from a terrace that I thought might help orient me against those landmarks. Scanning a Google images search on Recoleta apartment rentals, I somewhat quickly came across an airbnb apartment rental picture that I thought might have the same cell tower in the background. Clicking through to the actual ad on airbnb, I realized I got luckier than I thought:

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 12.40.46 PM

A bit of scrolling through the pictures – the 11th photo specifically – revealed nearly the exact same view, although possibly one or two floors above the VFYW window. There isn’t the plant near the window of the airbnb ad, so I don’t think this is precisely the same apartment – but clearly in the same vertical line. The building is the Concord Callao, Avenida Callao, 1234. The view is western – toward Riobamba and away from Callao. The view is out the living room window. I would guess about the 10th floor.

That was fun!

From the submitter:

Evidence that I’m a hardcore Dishhead (or that I just don’t get out much): I was hugely gratified when I saw you’d used my photo! It’s evidence of the limitations of photography, as well, because the actual view out that window is much prettier than what you see here. I couldn’t get the lens to see what my eyes saw.

I’ll be surprised if people get this one, as it’s an internal/courtyard view. The apartment building is 1234 Callao, in the part of Buenos Aires where Recoleta meets Barrio Norte (not too far from Palermo, not too far from Once) but the apartment (1210) is on the back side of the building. I spent a wonderful month here, researching a new book project and eating too much bitter-chocolate ice cream. (Unfortunately, Buenos Aires’ three main ice cream chains, Persicco, Freddo, and Volta, all have outposts within a block of this building.)

(Archive)