The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #138


A reader writes:

Red brick industrial buildings next to a smokestack, next to a rapid river?  My guess is Lowell, Massachusetts.  If I had more time, more patience, more interest or if I were more google-skilled, I’d make an effort to confirm my hunch.  As none of those things apply, I’ll wait till Tuesday to find out how close I was.


You’re going to get a TON of guesses from Massachusetts on this one. The red brick and semi-dilapidated smokestacks place this one in a mill town in New England. The two rivers (Merrimack and Concord for any Thoreau fans) meeting near a small waterfall (Pawtucket Falls) places it in Lowell, Massachusetts, formerly the largest complex of mills in the country.

Another Lowell guesser:

Being a lifelong Left Coaster I have no expertise in the matter, but I immediately thought “Massachusetts river mill”, which turned up this postcard from 1906:


The bank’s all wrong, but I’ll declare victory anyway and return to coffee.


Augusta, Maine and Frankfort, Kentucky are locked in an eternal struggle for Cutest Capital City in America. Both are significantly smaller than their states’ major cities (Portland and Louisville), and both have their distinctive geo-architectural features. Frankfort’s is the little bowl in which the state capitol sits. Augusta’s is this old red-brick mill on the St Lawrence, in your photo.


I say Saco, Maine.  I don’t have time to chase a more specific answer, but since I was an early paid subscriber I believe that should be enough.

No favoritism to subscribers! But we are grateful for your support. Another reader:

Wow. I have been following your contests for a couple of years and have always been impressed with people who deduce locations from minor details in the picture, then spend time on Google Maps researching the exact location. I never entered before since I just don’t have that time and determination. But, then I saw this week’s contest and realized – I used to work in this building!

It is the Winooski Mill in Winooski, Vermont, taken from the Champlain Mill across the Winooski River. Hopefully stumbling into the answer still leaves me eligible for the book!


The picture is of the Chace Mill, which is on the Burlington side of the river and which has been converted into a yoga studio and a number of offices.  The Winooski falls area has a number of mills back in the day and Winooski struggled a lot when they all closed. Recently it has become a little satellite town of Burlington, Vermont, and the downtown area has been revitalized, in part, by repurposing the old mills for offices, apartments, and yoga studios.


The building featured in the photo is the Chace Mill, from which some well known early 20th century photographs of children at work were taken by Lewis Hines, including, I understand, this one:



It’s kind of a creepy feeling to see a place you recognize so quickly on the VFYW. I don’t even ever think about them or where they might be, even though I see the contest and read the results every week. I don’t have that kind of global-local imagination (or travel experience, I guess). But when you see a place pretty much every day, well, huh.

Another who recognized it instantly:

When we were first married (34 years ago tomorrow!), we would meet at a little place just across the river, called the Black Rose Cafe, for lunch. Wonderful memories and the best carrot cake I’ve ever had.

Another sends a photo of the Champlain Mill:



You may be interested to know that the RU12 Community Center is located in the building from which the photo was likely taken.  (“RU12? Community Center celebrates, educates and advocates with and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Vermonters,” – They are a truly great resource for us Vermonters, but that isn’t the view from their window.  RU12? is on the lower level on the western side of the Champlain Mill.   This photo appears to have been taken from one of the top two floors farther east.  That’s as close as I can get!


I used to live about 100 yards from where this picture was taken. I live in Luxembourg now and totally dropped the ball on that contest. Now lightning has struck twice!


In 1927, Vermont was struck by a catastrophic flood, a really seminal event in its history. Essentially, 19th century Vermont was partially washed away, to be replaced by a much more modern infrastructure financed by the federal government. And there was a film camera that took some great footage of the flooding Winooski River; it was set up only a few windows down from the one through which this picture was taken:


I was a filmmaker in Vermont for years and worked on a number of documentaries that included a segment on that flood, so I have stared at grainy black and white footage of that river raging past that building for hours and hours of my life. I literally can’t look at that image without overlaying water raging a couple stories up on that building.

Another adds, “Just to the right would be the dam that Ira Allen, founder of the University of Vermont and brother of the famous Ethan Allen, built.” Another notes:

The Winooski River flows northerly, unlike most major rivers on this continent, which generally flow southerly. Lake Champlain also flows north, emptying through the Richelieu River into the St. Lawrence and thence to the Atlantic.


I live in Winooski (pop. 7267). What a treat to find this familiar sight on the Dish! Here are a few fun facts about the ‘Noosk:

– The Champlain Mill is a former textile mill that shut down in the 1950s. It was reincarnated as a mall for a time, and was purchased in 2011 by MyWebGrocer, which provides ecommerce and marketing solutions to the grocery industry. Now it’s home to a few techie businesses, including MyWebGrocer, Physician’s Computer Company and New Breed Marketing.

– The 6th annual Vermont Tech Jam, a two-day job fair and tech expo, took place at the Mill this year. I was one of the organizers. Our slogan: From Textile to Tech-Style! Here’s a link to a short video about the event, with footage from inside the mill.

– Though Winooski sounds Polish, it’s actually an Abenaki word that means wild onion, hence Winooski’s other nickname, the Onion City.

– Across the street from the mill on the other side is a bakery, Cupp’s Cafe. The baker, Gretel-Ann Fischer, is currently a contestant on TLC’s The Next Great Baker – she’s one of the final five! You can watch the latest episode on Monday night.

– The entire city fits into roughly one square mile.

– Winooski is one of the most diverse cities in Vermont, thanks, in part, to an influx of refugees from all over the world. A local African hip-hop group called A2VT – Africa to Vermont – recently wrote a catchy tune full of civic pride called “Winooski, My Town.” The music video, released last month, has been viewed more than 20,000 times on YouTube, making it a viral video in this teeny tiny state (pop. roughly 620,000):

Thanks for posting this photo. I haven’t ponied up my subscription money yet, but I will. I’ve been reading the Dish daily since 2004 or so. I work for Seven Days, an independent weekly based in Burlington. Previously, my fave Dish moment was when I saw you link to one of our blog posts, about the governor of Maine comparing the IRS to the Gestapo. But I think seeing the view from the mill was better.


I went to a private high school in Vermont and would often get dropped off at the mill after school by my ride and wait for my mom to pick me up after work. It’s full of all the types of little expensive stores you’d expect to find in a place like that in Vermont: quilts, jewelry, high-end ski clothing, Green Mountain Coffee and so on. I’d guess the picture was taken from a restaurant called Sweetwaters, but I think that closed years ago.

Another sends a map:


One more:

I grew up in Vermont, but have lived in California for almost 30 years.  One of the amazing things about Vermont is how easily I can identify photos taken in Vermont, even if they are of places that I have never been.  There is some aspect of the combination of geography, settlement, and flora that create what is, in my opinion, an unparalelled sense of place.  I’ve lived substantially more of my life in California than in Vermont and I have no family left in Vermont.  However, the Green Mountains will forever be home for me in a way that no other place on Earth ever will be.

Determining a winner this week was tough, since more than 75 readers correctly answered Winooski, and we don’t have the coordinates for the exact window. But one reader stood out as the only one to have guessed a difficult view in the past without winning – last week’s contest from Ho Chi Minh City. That reader writes:

The smokestack, waterfalls, and architectural details of the building suggest we are looking at some sort of mill. The tightly spaced windows indicate an older mill from the 19th-century. Lancashire, England, seems like a potential good guess. However, the scene seems to be located in a heavily forested area given all the trees and a residential neighborhood with the houses in the background. Neither of these are present in Lancashire.

Thus, I turn to the United States, in particular the Northeast given the grey sky and ice in the river, even though there are plenty of mill towns in the South. Massachusetts mills are too big and industrial, and not located in a residential setting. Looking for a more forested area, which leads me further north to Vermont and New Hampshire. I come across the Winooski Falls in Vermont.

The scene in the photograph is of the Chace Mill at 1 Mill Street, Burlington, Vermont, which was formerly a mill but is now office space and an incubator for new businesses. The photograph was taken across the river from The Champlain Mill at 20 Winooski Falls Way in Winooski, Vermont, which according to its website is commercial space for emerging technology companies. Given the perspective, I’d say the picture was taken from the fourth floor and 14 windows in from the left of the building.