The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #193


A reader writes:

Hmmmmm. The fan palms (perhaps Sabals), not much of any other type of palm present except for miniatures, the hint of industry with smokestacks and powerlines in the background, make me think of the area northeast of downtown Jacksonville, FL, perhaps in proximity to Heckscher Blvd, near where I-295 & state 105 intersect, on a heading towards A1A (my favorite state highway in the US today!). If so, I’m glad the photographer caught it during a time of relatively few industrial explosions – looks more appealing then.

Another is apathetic:

This has got to be one of the most uninteresting and mundane views you’ve featured in a contest. The palm trees, flat terrain and mountains in the background appear to be Southern California, and I’ll be a little more specific to guess the L.A. Basin somewhere. But beyond that, I don’t really care.

The views are only as good as the submissions. Another reader:

Palm trees, red curbs, and it sure looks better than today in Minnesota! Hawaii?


I really don’t know. The vibe is definitely Southeast US – the buildings, the parking lot, the vegetation, to me it looks like any number of small cities in Florida. But the distant cranes and smoke stacks suggest a major port. Could it instead be Georgia? South Carolina? Can’t make out the license plates. Without the skills of many of your contestants, I’m afraid I’m going to have to just guess – how about Charleston, SC?

Nope, the other coast:

This has got to be southern California! Wide parking spaces, GM work van, yellow Prius taxis, combined with palm trees, smog, and mountains faintly visible in the background. What looks like a refinery or chemical processing plant in the background makes me say an area like Long Beach or El Segundo, but I don’t have the time to be a superguesser!

California it is. Another reader:

If I google one more California oil refinery I’m going to end up in GITMO, so I’m giving up. Guessing Huntingdon Beach because their parking lots have those double-line bay dividers and the diamond-shaped islands of shrub, but the distant industrial thing doesn’t seem to match.

Another gets on the right track:

The van and large pickup in the parking lot makes it the U.S.A. The combination of palm trees and eucalyptus trees makes it Southern California. The dark line across the horizon might be mountains, but I don’t think so – I think it’s a marine layer fog bank, and the camera wasn’t pointed toward the mountains. In the background you can make out both refinery towers and port cranes. That puts it somewhere near the ports of Los Angeles–Long Beach, probably the “South Bay” area: Torrance, Wilmington, San Pedro, somewhere like that. I didn’t try to explore it down to the street level.

Another gets the right city:

A completely nondescript yet very typical place in Southern California. The industrial background + a lack of visible landmarks rules out a large number of places in the LA basin but does not help me zero on a particular location. Judging by the shadows, the photographer is facing NNE, yet the mountains are far. So I’ll just guess Torrance.

Another nails the right building:

Google Map

When I looked at this week’s contest photo, my first reaction was: “Wow, this is easy.” Eucalyptus trees and palm trees and an oil refinery all in the same picture? Smoggy mountains in the distance? This pretty much has to be somewhere in Southern California.

But it was only when I looked more closely at the photo that I realized just how easy it was (at least for me). You see, this is my hometown, Torrance, in the South Bay area of greater Los Angeles. The tallish building in the center of the photo is the Golden West Tower, an apartment complex for seniors built back in the 1970s. (As a child I watched the construction of that building from my second-floor bedroom window.) The refinery in the background is an Exxon Mobil facility (which exploded at least twice during my childhood.) The photograph was apparently taken from the Torrance Marriott South Bay Hotel, located just to the north of the Del Amo Fashion Center on Fashion Way. The person who took the picture is on the north side of the hotel looking to the northeast (you can just make out the San Gabriel Mountains in the haze on the horizon).

A wider view:


Another reader:

Ordinarily I try to send in some interesting tidbit about the places in the picture. But this week’s searches turned up a different type of results. The picture features a large ExxonMobile refinery that was evacuated last year and the Golden West Tower apartment building for seniors where an 80 year old resident committed a double murder-suicide in 2012. Oil and gun violence. A very American landscape.

Another adds, “I thought about calling up the hotel and asking about their room numbering scheme, but that just seemed creepy.” Another ventures a guess at the room number:

I finally got one. I have been reading your blog for years now and am going to join right away. Usually the contests are in some far off place, but this one is in my backyard. The photo in this week’s contest is taken from the Torrance Marriott Hotel. The only lower floors that have balconies are the 3rd and the 4th. So my best guess is Room #337.


Hi! Founding and renewing member here.  So, I fire up the page, see the picture, turn to the wife and say “I know that building!” My grandparents lived in that large building in the ’70s. When I was a kid, we’d drive up from San Diego about every couple of months for a visit and have lox and bagels for breakfast and later go to the coffee shop around the corner for dinner. Every time. They were also the first and only people I knew that were actually afraid of the microwave oven. I could tell you more about them and my visits but I believe that’s a different contest. Now for the guessing: 6th floor, room 622.

So close. The winner was the only reader to correctly guess the room:


Well this just screams Los Angeles. But where? The real clue in finding the exact location was the refinery in the distance. The obvious first choice was the Exxon-Mobil refinery in Torrance. A quick search of hotels in the area turned up the Marriott at 3635 Fashion Way, Torrance, CA.

Now to guess the room number (argh). It looks like the floor is just above tree level, so it’s probably the sixth or seventh floor. I’ll go with the sixth floor. I can pinpoint the room visually, but I couldn’t turn up a floor plan to be sure of the room number. Taking a guess as to the numbering scheme, I’ll go with 629 (608, 607 and 630 would be my alternatives).

Thanks for an easy one this week. St Paul drove me nuts last week.

From the submitter:

I’m not sure if this one will be too easy, given that you certainly have many followers in Southern California, but I showed it to my husband, who grew up here in Los Angeles in the South Bay, and he didn’t recognize it, so here goes. That building in the distance is of no particular significance, by the way (it’s a retirement community), except that there was a murder-suicide there a couple of years ago, something that sadly is not unheard of in retirement homes. In the farther distance you can see the Exxon Mobil Refinery, and beyond that, mountains.

I had to spend a good part of the weekend chaperoning students from my school who were attending the Junior Statesmen of America Winter Congress that was being held at the Torrance Marriott. This photo was taken at about 11 am on Sunday, February 16 from room 629.