The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #223


A reader throws up his hands:

We must congratulate you on lulling us in to a false sense of security. This is quite possibly the hardest “view” you’ve ever posted. Our best guess is my dad’s: Williams County, North Dakota. We base this on the mountains, and the look of the buildings, which seem to resemble an industrial mining or fracking operation.

Next time, perhaps something between “nondescript mountain range with weird building” and “stadium with identifiable flag”? Thank you as always for a fun contest!

Another anticipated a hard one after a few weeks of easy contests:

Well, we knew this was coming, didn’t we? We have what appear to be prefabricated buildings of recent vintage, on a rocky, barren, and otherwise undeveloped landscape, with snowy mountains off in the distance. Somewhere in the Arctic, during the summer. A woman and child walk in the foreground – Inuit, perhaps? So let’s say Alaska, somewhere along the North Slope, and for sake of specificity call it Barrow, even thought I cannot pin down these buildings on maps of the town.

Another gets fictional:

Taken from the office of Gustavo Fring at the Los Pollos Hermanos Compound, just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Another heads much farther south:

After spending a disconcertingly long time on Google Maps in Satellite View, I’m going to go with Potosí, Bolivia. It actually might be any other city in the Bolivian Altiplano, but I’m tired of satellite view and Potosí looks about the right amount of brown. Plus, it’s an important mining city, and the edge of that pit looks like a mine.

But for all I know, that’s a tar-sands operation in Alberta and I’ve just spent two hours in the wrong hemisphere. This might be the most challenging contest you all have done! I opened the photo today and said, “Ugh.”

Wrong hemisphere. Another gets the wrong planet:

Mars? There was a story on This American Life / Love + Radio last week about a Mars station to host 4 humans is 2023. This may be the terrestrial training ground. Looking in the arid, iron rich soils of greater Mongolia I worked my way to some disputed lands between China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan. Is this an homage to Chini or a nose-thumbing after two easy weeks? I’m not sure what Aksai Chin is, but it showed up on my Google map, and one can only assume the people who live there would be the Chini. There don’t appear to be any roofs in the area, but just by name association alone, I hope this is close, and I hope Doug found it.

To the right country:

To me the picture said Northern Canada, or possibly Alaska. But I’m guessing it wouldn’t be the US three weeks in a row. So after some half-hearted googling, I guess somewhere in Yukon, Northwest Territories, Canada. A vague guess, because it was a gorgeous weekend and I went apple picking on Saturday and then simply had to make pies and crisp on Sunday. I’d send you one, but Internet.

Another reader nails the province and town:

I got lucky on this one. I zoomed in to see the people walking down the dirt road, and thought they looked Inuit. I then thought of Nuuk, Greenland, which vfywc_223is at least pretty small and unique. When it wasn’t Nuuk, I looked at the Chevy van in the photo thought “oh, maybe it’s Alaska” – in which case, game over, because Alaska is huge and has dozens of tiny little settlements. But then I remembered Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory. I hopped on over to Iqaluit, and lo and behold, there was the crazy modular spaceship form of the high school. (By the way, kudos for making sure the flag was illegible.)

Another wasn’t impressed with our promise to make this week more difficult:

I haven’t submitted to the contest in some time.  But I was excited when you said this week would be harder than than recent contests, so I thought I’d go for the challenge.  Some challenge. The landscape was unmistakably Arctic.  Nunavut was my first guess. I was in Iqualit, Nunavut before my coffee was cool enough to drink.

Reality TV helped out this reader:

Got it in a flash thanks to the wonderful BBC program “A Cabbie Abroad”.  In it, London cab driver Mason McQueen visits remote places – Mumbai, Bangkok, Fiji and Iqaluit, to ply his trade:

Whilst the set up is about learning to be able to drive there, the really interesting part is how he gets to appreciate the plight of the locals.  In the case of Iqaluit it was the dispossession of the land of the indigenous people and the poverty, health and alcohol problems in the community.  He approaches it with an open mind and a real honesty and humanity.

A funny footnote though. In the program he has to master the house numbering system of Iqaluit, where there is one set of house numbers for the whole town, and by the end he has it mastered.

I actually contacted Mason on Twitter about the contest … and his guess was Colorado!

One reader has a fantastic visual walkthrough to nail the right apartment building:

Not a single legible sign. No automobile license plates. No distinctively styled lampposts or street signs. Now we’re talking!

First, I identified the key landmarks in the window’s view:


Then I located those landmarks in the aerial image of Iqaluit:


Here’s an alternative view of the apartment tower, seen from the east (rather than from the north):


Given the line of sight, our window must be in the westernmost of 3 buildings on Qulliq Court, overlooking the Arctic College head office. (The qulliq, sometimes translated as kudlik, is a type of oil lamp used by the original Inuit inhabitants of Baffin Island.) Thanks to Street View, this building can be identified as 508 Qulliq Court.


But which window? Given how much of the Arctic College’s roof that is visible in the VFYW, I believe that the photographer was on the second floor rather than the ground floor (even though the ground floor is itself higher than the roof). We also know that the photographer’s window opens. I surmise that it is one of the flanks of the building’s bay windows. Finally, given the angles from the landmarks to the window, I believe that the picture was taken from the westernmost bay of 508 Qulliq Court:


Based on what I’ve read today, I believe that 508 Qulliq Court and its neighbors are housing belonging to Nunavut Arctic College. If I’ve identified the correct bay window, the VFYW picture was taken from Unit No. 27.

Another notes:

I’m actually rather impressed that there’s Google Street View for this city, given that it’s accessible only by plane and is the smallest and most remote of the Canadian provincial/territorial capitals.  And this was the first time that Street View wasn’t actually a lot of help since the snow banks are so high that it’s hard to get a good view in any direction.

The Street View story is pretty cool, as this reader discovered:

Having been to Alaska for work a few times, my gut reaction was somewhere in the North American Arctic. The signs are:

  • A lack of any foliage suggesting it gets very snowy and cold.
  • Large metal buildings which are fast to construct during summer, cheap to transport their raw materials, and big enough for the community to spend all winter inside
  • Lots of chimneys on roofs, curved over to prevent snow falling in.

That didn’t give me much to go on but searching for “Arctic Towns in Canada” I got lucky and came across a video by Christopher Kalluk – who took Google Street View images by walking around town carrying something like R2D2 on his back:

From that video I quickly found the three buildings shown, and the apartment complex.

Finding that was great fun.. even better was finding this Google Street View image of Christopher on a sled being pulled by dogs. Amazing!

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 11.40.03 AM

Don’t forget the donuts:

To show just how thoroughly the Canadians have conquered the Arctic, consider this local establishment (notice the slogan written in Inuktitut syllabics):


As always, a reader informs us about the town:

Founded in 1942 as an American air base, accessible mainly by air (by boat in the summer, and dogsled and snowmobile in the winter), Iqaluit grew in the 1950s due to a NORAD radar station project. In 1958, there was a proposed plan to build the city under a giant concrete dome.  Seriously!  It was to be artificially lit, heated to -6°C (21°F) in the winter, and powered by nuclear energy. Thankfully the dome did not come to pass (Iqaluit is apparently a great place to see the Northern Lights), although it would have made for an excellent reality show today.

Notable Iqaluit current events include the opening of the first beer and wine store in 38 years (an attempt to quell the alcoholism made worse by prohibition), the extinguishing of a 4 month long town dump fire, and the ouster by the city council of the chief administrative officer. These incidents are supposedly unrelated.

Another reader connects the view to last week’s big story:

Iqaluit is an interesting choice just a week after Scotland’s vote for independence. Nunavut is in its 15th year of territorial quasi-self rule.  The split from the Northwest Territories was a major victory for Native sovereignty and self-government, even though it is still governed by Canada.  That fight continues in Canada and around the world. Here in the US, we have Native Hawaiians toying with taking the illegal overthrow of its monarchy to the UN, Akwesasne Mohawk insists it is sovereign territory straddling the US-Canada border (they issue their own passports), and the Navajo Nation is stretching its legs with the idea of becoming a “state” for Medicaid and Medicare purposes.

A previous winner provides a soundtrack:

This VFYW contest has a tenuous connection to the Dish’s new and sporadic cover song contest.  The White Stripes played Iqaluit (pop. 6,699) on there final tour in 2007.  The tour was a long trek across Canada.  Their movie about the adventure Under Great White Northern Lights contained footage of the Iqaluit stop and the accompanying album’s cover is a doctored picture of Jack and Meg walking near the shore in Iqaluit (about here; the old location for a Hudson Bay Company post).  The set list for their show at Iqaluit’s Arctic Winter Games Arena included their covers of Dolly Parton’s Jolene, Blind Willie Johnson’s John the Revelator, and Son House’s Death Letteramong others.  Although not a cover, I prefer Gillian Welch’s retort Time (the Revelator).

Another regular reader offers a dissent:

Could you please stop quoting from Chini’s responses every week? It’s like the guy in class who always raises his hand. Nobody wants to hear from him every time.

Perhaps, but plenty of other readers look forward to his little blockquote column every week, as do we:

VFYW Iqaluit Actual Window Marked - Copy

Bare dirt, tiny windows, thin grass; yep, we’re hell and gone from the equator. At first blush that might seem to make this one crazy hard but it’s actually helpful; there simply aren’t that many people living at these latitudes. Not to mention the dead giveaway at center left; once you saw it, this one became an insta-find (for myself and presumably quite a few others). Chini kuviasungitok!

This week’s view comes from Iqaluit, the capital of Canada’s Nunavut province. The picture was taken from a second floor window in residence building #508 on the campus of Nunavut Arctic College and looks almost due south along a heading of 170.21 degrees.

Here’s the location of two Iqaluit views that the Dish featured back in 2008/2010 alongside this week’s shot:

VFYW Iqaluit Other VFYWs 2 - Copy

And here’s this week’s winner, who also gives us a colorful architecture tour:

I’m not a world traveller, so each week I hope for a familiar view of Canada or the US. This time I identified the scene immediately: Iqaluit, capital of the territory of Nunavut, Canada. I was there a year and a half ago; you actually published my view from my sister-in-law’s window in the suburb of Apex.

The giveaway is the two-tone blue Inuksuk High School, with its distinctive porthole windows and fibreglass panels, pictured here, behind an arch of bowhead whale bones:

Inuksuk HS

Behind it is the brown and tan Frobisher Inn. Anyone who has visited the city (population 7250) will recognize these landmarks. The architecture of Iqaluit can be quite striking, such as Nakasuk Elementary School, which could pass as a lunar research station:


And the igloo-shaped St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral:


It’s also very colourful, which helps break up the white of winter. Bold colours are popular for residential buildings:


And the bright yellow of the Iqaluit Airport is easily spotted from a distance:


I’m pretty confident the photo was taken from an apartment in the building I’ve indicated on the map below, based on the angle of the window opening to the hotel and high school, and the angle of the roof hip of the Nunavut Arctic College in the foreground.


I’m less certain about the exact window, but I believe it’s the left window of the second bay window unit from the left, on the southwest side of the building, on the second story. I chose this one because the perspective of the view appears to correspond roughly to the middle of the building, and since I assume the hinge of this swinging window would be on the wall side of the frame, not the side protruding from the building:


We confirmed the above image with the reader who submitted this week’s view:

That’s absolutely the window! Facing out the right. I opened the right side of the bay window to get the shot. The Dish sleuths do it again.

The view is from an apartment (Apartment Q-26, QI Complex) that was made available to short term researchers associated with the Arctic College, part of which is seen in the foreground with the pink roof. The distinctive blue building with the portholes is the Inuksuk High School. The taller brown building beyond is a hotel with cafe and theatre, the tallest building in Nunavut and part of the Astro Hill complex.

Thanks to all for the many great entries this week. Many of them come to you in this collage:


(Archive: Text|Gallery)