The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #130


A reader writes:

Based on the type and amount of erosion on those very green mountains in the background, I’d guess Hawaii. I’m also guessing Oahu because of the development in the foreground. This is truly a gut reaction; because the picture makes me homesick, I think it’s Hawaii. Go Bows!


When I enlarge the photo, the characters on the binder just on our side of the window are still illegible; however, their spacing makes me think of an east Asian script. The flags in the foreground and on top of the tower appear to be Malaysian. Maybe the Taiwanese flag, but I think I see bits of white under the red, which would probably mean Malaysia's flag (the one that looks like a rip-off of ours but is actually apparently a rip-off of the British East India Company's flag – thanks, Internet!). Beyond that, I got nothing. Johor, Malaysia?


The outskirts of Taipei, Taiwan? That's a complete guess, as I haven't been there.  But the geography seems to fit Taiwan better than Haiti, Samoa, or Liechtenstein, which are also countries that have a flag with blue and red borders and something white in the middle, as the flag in the center of the photo seems to have.


The flags in the middle and on top of the building suggest either Myanmar, Samoa, or Taiwan.  My first thought was that someone in the diplomatic corps sent you this from Myanmar's new capital of Napyidaw. But it appears to be on the same giant delta that cuts through most of Myanmar. Taiwan, on the other hand, is covered with hills like this, including most of Taipei.  After a couple hours on Google Maps, I can't pinpoint the location, but I'm sure it's somewhere in Taiwan.  I'll go with Xizhi the hills northeast of Taipei:

Xizhi, taiwan


My first hunch: a resource rich country, probably in the tropics, a city with verdant volcanic mountains very close by. I tried Google Images for Caracas, and the mountains looked very similar to your View. Could that be a Venezuelan (or Taiwan?) flag just left and below the center of the picture? And maybe one at the top of the nearest tower? The design of the towers has a Miesian influence, albeit softened by curves, which suggests a place with more affection for Western aesthetic values than say China or Taiwan. I'll go with Caracas.


I would swear that this view is from a window in the country of my birth, Costa Rica. I would even venture to say it is somewhere in the area of Escazu, because of all the construction. The mountains, the lushness, the colors: they all speak to my childhood. Now watch me be wrong and they'll take away my passport!


This week's contest is killing me.  

The picture screams inter-mountain western United States, from the high terrain, low foliage, western urban buildings (minus any garish billboards).  If it's the northern hemisphere, I am pretty sure this is facing east or southeast.  The building in the middle screams college theater building, or some such.  I have been through ever major (and minor) metro area in the western US that has controlled access highways running hard against a south facing slope with a large mountain in the background (low angle Google Earth wandering), and come up completely empty.  My best bets were the Salt Lake City area and the far north western parts of the LA valley, but nothing comes close.  I even tried some southern hemisphere locations, but none of the foliage makes sense to me.

I'm stumped, and it's killing me because there are plenty of markers in this picture that should make it solvable by someone who does not have personal knowledge.


Not much to go by but I'm assuming that is Chile's flag on the pole. From there, my quick review leads me to Concepcion. Let's say near where Avenida Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez intersects Ruta 154, the Paicavi. How'd I do?

Right country. Another gets the right city:

Finally one I can answer. That's Santiago, Chile, taken from the World Trade Center looking due north to the U.S. Embassy (the beige, rectangular building in the center of the image) and the Cerro Manquehue mountain, which I used to climb. The dark building on the right is an office tower known as Torre de la Industria. The under-construction towers on the right are called Parque Titanium – due to be completed in 2014.

Another sends a Google Earth image of the area:


Another reader:

Santiago is at the foot of the Andes.  Flying into Santiago from the East is very dramatic, with your plane almost touching the mountaintops.  Thanks to the copper trade, the capital city has experienced an explosion of construction – of course, all earthquake resistant.


The mountain in the background is too low to be in the main ranges of the Andes. Flying around on Google Earth reveals it to be Cerro Manquehe.


I visited Santiago once in September of 2005, at that time none of these office buildings would have existed yet. It was the beginning of an economic boom and they had just completed the Costanera Norte, a private toll highway built partially underground beneath the Mapocho River in some areas, that ushered the wealthy residents of the Las Condes suburbs to their downtown offices. At that time there was strong opposition from Las Condes residents against extending the Red Line of the Santiago Metro further east into their neighborhood, evidence of the enormous wealth/class gap as you cross the capital.

This view is facing north from a 6th floor window in the Edificio Costanera in the "new" business district of El Golf (see picture):


The reader with the most accurate guess:

The foliage had me thinking South America immediately, and the red and blue flag quickly ruled out Brazil or Argentina, but it was the combination of mountains and skyscrapers which led me to Santiago, Chile. More specifically, this week's view looks almost due north towards the U.S. Embassy from Santiago's Torre de la Costanera on the Avenida Andres Bello. The nearly complete towers on the left are part of the Parque Titanium development, one of many such projects in Santiago's booming "Sanhattan" district. Finding the exact floor the picture was taken from was more tricky.

My best guess is the 8th floor offices of a Chilean law firm, Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana, but it might also be the local offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers below. A marked picture of the likely window is attached:

VFYW Santiago Actual Window Marked - Copy

The 8th floor is correct. However, that reader has won a book already, so we will give this week's prize to a previous correct guesser who hasn't won yet and who got closest to the 8th floor:

Back in August, in Contest #115 you published a picture from Pablo Neruda's house on the Chilean coast in Valparaíso.  I was really disappointed that I didn't figure it out because just six weeks earlier I had toured his house in Santiago.  But this Chilean view I know.

The campus in the center of the image is the US Embassy.  The Torre Titanium la Portada, the second tallest building in Chile, is actually directly across the street from the Embassy but it is blocked in the VFYW image by the Torre La Industria which is the building in the immediate right foreground.  The two curved buildings on the left are in Parque Titanium.  Not surprisingly I suppose, the district we are in is referred to as Sanhattan – Santiago's Manhattan.   This week's photo was taken from the Torre de la Costanera which is located at 2711 Avenue Andres Bello.  If the tie breaker is the floor then I'll guess we are on the 6th as shown in this photo:

Torre de la Costanera

By the way, my daughter and I are undertaking a project we call Seven Tall Beauties.  It is our quest to climb the stairs of the tallest building on each continent.  We had previously climbed buildings in Chicago, Melbourne, Johannesburg and this past June we were in Santiago to climb to the top of the Gran Torre Costanera – the tallest building in South America.  It is just two blocks south of where this week's VFYW was taken from.   I've attached my photo from the top of the tower:


Details from the submitter:

The picture was taken from the 8th floor of an office building called Torre Costanera on Av. Andrés Bello 2711, in the Las Condes sector of Santiago, Chile. Looking north east. Extra points if someone mentions "Sanhattan" as some call this part of town due to the number of high rise office buildings. I took the shot because often Santiago had a significant amount of of but the on days after it rains, it's a beautiful place – especially in spring.

Update from a reader:

I have sympathy for this week's winner. I am the person who submitted the picture for contest #115 of Valparaiso, but I actually live in Santiago and I had no idea about this week's. Chile didn't even cross my mind. In my defense I never go to that part of town; I live on the west side with the commoners. But goes to show living in the same city as the picture doesn't necessary help!

Thanks for the contest. I recently turned my mom on to your site as she just got highspeed internet access for the first time. She was here in Chile visiting me this past week and I caught her checking it several times.