The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #141


A reader writes:

Pollution, filthy window, characteristic air conditioners, paper over windows across the way (in lieu of curtains or shades) is typical in working people’s homes in China. Probably Beijing, possibly in or near Dashanzi industrial zone and 798 Arts District. Further than that I cannot say.


I was in Shanghai last summer and this view is reminiscent of the local architecture throughout the non-downtown areas.  So I’ll go with Shanghai as my guess and have a glass of scotch to soothe the trauma of a freshly renewed memory of a horrific cab ride through the city. My driver’s name was Crash … no more needs to be said.


Several buildings in the picture are very distinctive, so I tried a number of Google searches for “yellow and brown striped building” or “building that looks like it has an alien spaceship on top of it,” but sadly those searches yielded nothing. This place really seems like it could be anywhere cold and industrial, from Baltimore to Beijing. I’ll go with Harbin, China. I took a trip through the area a couple years ago, including a visit to the border with North Korea, and this scene definitely reminds me of the Northeastern Chinese cities that I traveled through.


I see dreariness, slightly Middle Eastern look but with not enough sat dishes and possibly wartorn. I’ll go with Grozny.


The pollution is a dead giveaway for a developing country – look at how dirty the buildings are from the coal burning! Beyond that, the color of the buildings and the unique fusion of the single skyscraper in the background suggest a city in Iran, perhaps?


The smoke and grimy window and American looking buildings and some sort of industry and presumably water cutting off the scenery beyond make me think of Gary, Indiana. A cheap hotel in Gary is my guess.


Where the meteor dropped some pieces: Deputatskoye, Russia. It’s a neat name even if not a winner. Sure looks like some Russian industrial town.

Another gets the right city:

Bad air, hot climate as suggested by the industrial air conditioners, muslim country as suggested by the one minaret or I’m hoping the Cairo Tower, but probably not.

Cairo, Egypt it is. Another gets more specific:

It didn’t take long to figure out that we’re looking at Cairo: the small striped building in the center is the Falaki Academic Center (part of American University in Cairo), and the distinctive building in the far right background belongs to Banque Misr.  Determining where exactly the photo was taken from proved far more challenging.  As best as I can figure, the photo was taken from the south side of Hussein Hegazy street, looking north into Cairo.


The adjacent rooftop structures seem to match (are those air conditioning units?), as does the light blue roof on the far left.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a window to highlight. But if it comes down to a tiebreaker this week, I was one of the many people who also identified the correct window last week. Hopefully that counts for something!

So close to breaking the tie, but the prize this week goes to the following reader, who got much more specific and who has also entered a dozen more contests than the previous reader:

A lot harder than last week!  My initial gut reaction was “Arab world” just based on the appearance of the buildings and a sort of resemblance to Amman, which I visited last year.  Amman was out, however, due to the flatness of the terrain visible, and the buildings were not modern enough for the Gulf, so my next thought was Syria.  I spent a while searching skylines of Damascus and then Aleppo with no luck, so I thought about what other cities in the region were big enough to have a view like the contest’s view, and Cairo occurred to me.

I spent another long while poring over skylines before I found the photo attached as “Cairo from old city” (link here).  I’ve put an arrow over the building which I’m pretty sure is the one on the right in the contest photo:

Cairo from old city

Next step: actually find where that is in Cairo.  The big mosque in the foreground was relatively easy – the Mosque Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, taken from the Citadel.  Then, I used the very helpful wikipedia page “List of tall buildings in Cairo” to identify the twin buildings in the far right background as the Nile City towers.  I then used Google maps to make a line-of-sight – somewhere along that line roughly was, if not the Window, then the key tower:

Line of sight

Aha!  If only I had drawn that line the first time around it would have saved me an embarrassingly long time combing the city, because as it happens the tower in question fell right on it!  The Banque Misr headquarters – satellite image attached, link here.  Here it is from the front, I think.

If only that were the actual Window.  I still had some work to do.  The absence of other large buildings and or visible open areas/parks from the shot narrowed down somewhat the possible directions we could be facing, but it took me a while of looking for the second-tallest building in the shot, the one on the far left, until I found this one.

More frustrating streetcombing with Google maps and image search, and another piece of the puzzle fell into place: The orange/tan stripey building in the center-right, midfield of the Window, is the Falaki Academic Center of the American University in Cairo, and is located here.  That would make the black smoke billowing upward in the center of the photo roughly coming from Sheikh Rihan street, the site of recent riots, or possibly from the front of the Egyptian Parliament, which has also seen its share of the riots.

Working backwards (south) from my triangulated points, passing the campus and the Egyptian Parliament, the first set of “roof stuff” that seemed to fit the necessary angle was this building on Hussein Hegazy street (green arrow, not red “A”), so that’s my answer – top floor:

The Window

I searched for the street number google suggested (12 Hussein Hegazy), and came across the Albawtaka Review, an “Arabic independent (non-governmental) non-profit online quarterly concerned with translating English short fiction.” (from here)  That sounds like Dish readership potential, so I’ll hazard that the photo came from their office.

So there we have it.  The first time I think I’ve gotten two windows in a row, and this one being the hardest one I’ve gotten.  Maybe this is my week to win!

Indeed. From the submitter:

The photo was taken at about 5:15 pm local time on January 26, 2013, in Cairo, Egypt. The smoke rising is from clashes near the interior ministry; my apartment is right next to the Cabinet and near a variety of other government buildings, so when things get hot, protestors head here. With the 2nd anniversary of the revolution yesterday and the government’s announcement of the outcome of trials of those police and protestors involved in the Port Saeed massacre of last year (21 received death, 70 some trials were delayed, including those of all police involved), things are not looking too hot in Egypt right now.

Follow-up from the submitter:

No way you chose my photo! This is excellent, much appreciated. I love the Dish, gonna subscribe now, rather than just mooch off my Google Reader.

In case you need any extra details should some creep figure out exactly where I sleep, I live at 12 Hussein Hegazy Street, in an area of Cairo called Mounira. I’m on the 9th floor (10th by American counting), and this is from the eastern-most window on the floor.

Thanks a lot for all the blogging!

Another close entry from a first-time contestant:

Finally, one that I recognize! This photo is taken in Cairo, Egypt, to the southeast of Tahrir Square. The cityscape immediately made me think Cairo, where I lived for a year back in 2006, but I’ve thought that before and been wrong. After I started looking closely, the striped building in the center looked familiar, and a Google image search confirmed that it is part of the American University in Cairo’s old campus near Tahrir. This building, which is called the Falaki center:

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 1.09.05 PM

I’m pretty sure the tall building on the right is the Banque Misr building, which means this photo is facing north. If my extrapolation is correct, the photo was taken on the 7th floor (or thereabouts) at 12 Hussein Hegazi Street, which is just a few blocks from where I used to live. The building in the foreground, with its quintessential third-world bureaucracy architecture, is part of the Ministry of Health, I believe. Tahrir Square is very close, a few blocks to the left of the Falaki building.

One reader totally nailed the right location – down to the exact floor – but he has already won a contest and VFYW book:

That was exhausting. I must have been to every souk and high rise from Amman to Riyadh before finding the right spot. This week’s view, however, comes from the heart of Cairo, Egypt. I believe the shot was taken from roughly the ninth floor of 12 Hussein Hegazy Street. The viewer was looking north, north eastward, with the Misr Bank Tower being the most distinctive landmark on the far right of the image. Egypt’s National Assembly building is only a block away, but it’s hidden from view by the building in the left foreground.

Hussein Hegazy Street is named for the first Egyptian soccer player to play in the professional English soccer leagues, way back in 1911. More recently, the street itself was the location of major protests over union and minimum wage issues in the spring of 2010. Only eight months later and a few blocks away some of those same protesters returned to Tahrir Square as the Egyptian revolution began.

Attached is a labeled, high-resolution satellite view showing your viewer’s position in relation to Tahrir that was taken during the January 2011 revolution:

Cairo VFYW Overhead Marked2 - Copy