The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #142


A reader writes:

Snow. US. Flat. Midwest-looking. How about Kansas City, MO, post blizzard?  I realize this isn’t precise enough to win in all likelihood, but why not try.

Another writes:

Well this is my first entry in the window contest and pretty sure I am off on the city and most likely the state, but I am sure it is in the northern portion of the United States, as there is snow and pine trees.  Looks like the West, as there seems to be a decent amount of sprawl.  Possibly next to an airport, as there looks to be a Hilton or Marriot in the distance and a Rodeway Inn on the right. So I am going to go with Boise, Idaho.  Hope someone gets this one; it wasn’t easy with a night-time picture.


This is one of too many grassy knoll cities in the Rust Belt. Grassy knolls replacing older buildings of character knocked down in a thoughtless enthusiasm for the new that never arrived to fill the spaces left behind. So a piece of architectural dreck fills the center of this photo with plenty of parking to spare. Probably isn’t South Bend, but I’ve been there and with the snow and USA cars this week’s VFYW shines as sister city to that strange place, now existing on the crumbs thrown by its neighbor, Notre Dame University.


Issy-les-Moulineaux, France? I was there for a conference years ago and it was the first place that popped into my head when I saw the photo. Post-industrial suburban Paris. Can’t wait to learn where it really is!


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Nice try, spam bot. Another:

Oh, goodie. It’s dark outside. There goes narrowing it down by landscape. But just because it’s nighttime doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There’s plenty of information to quickly narrow it down to city, state and country, namely the fact that a) there’s snow on the ground and b) there’s a giant Rodeway Inn sign in the lower right-hand corner.

Another lays out all the possible Rodeways:


That should make it easy right? Just find the right Rodeway Inn?


I give up. After looking at dozens of Rodeway Inns via Google Maps, I’m just going to pick one at random that I haven’t looked at yet: Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Having just spent half an hour looking at photos of Rodeway Inns across the United States, I have to assume that this week’s VFYW is some very subtle “native advertising.”

He’s onto us. Another nails the right Rodeway:

Woo-hoo! Alaskan here, born and bred (now DC-bound), and first time VFYW contest entrant!

I knew this was Anchorage at first glance – not really sure how. The Rodeway Inn sign was an easy confirmation. The white arched building in the middle is home to the Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC), a “nonprofit law firm established in 1967, that provides free civil legal assistance to low-income Alaskans.” The multi-colored lit stairwell is the home of Anchorage Dept of Health and Human Services, which I’m guessing is to provide some cheer in the dark Alaskan winter. The rest of it just has the look of old-school downtown Anchorage: flat, snowy, uncrowded by either people or buildings.  Across from the Roadway Inn is the backside of the venerable Captain Cook Hotel, where the photo was obviously taken from. This is where my parents stayed in Anchorage when they were feeling flush – we traveled up from Kenai once a month or so. A little history here from the hotel website:

An earthquake in 1964 leveled much of downtown Anchorage, and many in town were hesitant to rebuild. Walter J. Hickel was more optimistic. The Kansas native—who had arrived in Alaska in 1940 at the age of 20, with only 37 cents to his name—had already been investing in Alaska’s future for decades, building hotels and business centers as well as serving as Alaska’s governor, all with an eye to making Alaska the American gateway to the Pacific Rim. The Hotel has prospered and expanded with the times: the first Tower opened in 1965, followed by Tower II in 1972 and Tower III in 1978.

More from another reader:


The Captain Cook’s developer built the hotel in 1965, in the wake of the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 (also known as the Good Friday Earthquake) that measured 9.2 on the Richter scale and destroyed much of the city, not to mention other parts of Alaska. The picture from the Wikipedia page was taken a few blocks away from the hotel’s location, to give an idea of the magnitude of the landslides that affected the city.

A lovely view of the restored city today:



Very easy VFYW this week … the Rodeway Inn sign is readable and there are only 150 of them in the world. Not too many of them are located in downtowns, so my wife found the right one quickly by googling “rodeway inn downtown”. Not sure of the exact floor, but we’re guessing 10th, since we’re a few floors above the top of the octagonal building across the street which looks to be about 7 stories. We’ve won before, so this is just for pride.


I traveled to Anchorage for the first time this past Christmas to visit my sick aunt. The city struck me as strangely empty and quiet, but I assumed this was due to it being a holiday. As the days passed, however, the quietness remained.


I’ve been showing your VFYW photos to my kids, ages 10 and 5, since the start of the contest.  It’s a great way to expose them to the rest of the world from our living room, and has led to some great discussions.  Unfortunately we haven’t recognized many of them.  However, what a thrill today as they both recognized this one as our hometown, Anchorage, Alaska!  The tip off?  The building in the background with the stairway lit with different colors.  That’s the Federal Building Annex at the corner of 8th and L Street.  The building across the street is the Benihana where we celebrated my daughter’s 10th birthday a few months ago.  The photo was taken from the Hotel Captain Cook, probably from about the 8th floor facing southwest.  The line of lights in the distance is the runway at the Ted Stevens International Airport.

Another gets down to street level:



I have no interesting story about the Hotel Captain Cook or the Rodeway Inn.  I have never been to Anchorage.  I used a little good deduction to trip into the answer early, perhaps because I work in hotels and knew how to search.  I first tried hitting the Rodeway Inn website, but you can’t just pull up a list of all Rodeway Inns.  So after taking a first guess at looking up all Rodeways within 100 miles of Kansas City (snow, grids, open space, and you just posted that window view of Olathe, KS), I hit upon an idea.  I went to Trip Advisor, simply typed in “Rodeway Inn”, and looked at the pictures in the listings that appeared.  They aren’t alphabetical, but the Anchorage Alaska Rodeway came up early (page 2), and it looked about the size of the one in the window view.  Google an address, and that octagonal neighboring building was an immediate giveaway.


The VFYW was taken from the 10th or 11th floor of the east tower of the hotel Captain Cook looking southwest. The lights in the distance are on Russian soil.

Heh. Another gets up close to the hotel:


Another one of the hundred or so readers who answered Anchorage:

Greetings from Germany. It appears to be the higher of the two towers in the “Captain Cook” hotel. I can only guess as to the correct floor – I’ll go with the 12th floor. I don’t expect to win, as you must have a few readers in Anchorage who will probably have better guesses as to the right floor and/or room. But getting this for the first time ever totally made my day!


I’m happy just to finally identify a window, but I would be thrilled to win the contest, in part because the VFYW book contains one of my own winter shots. Incidentally, you also recently posted my “View From Your Blizzard” (Kitchener, Ontario). I’m going to try to make sure the next time I participate in any way with VFYW it does not involve snow.

On to the winner – the only reader who nailed the correct floor of the Captain Cook hotel (the actual room was 1778):

Curses, Andrew Sullivan, I have been so good about walking away from the contests in the past few months. But you got me this time with the Rodeway Inn clue. My OCD kicked in, and I was painfully trying to find a Rodeway Inn in one of the Northern states (flat, snow-covered), when my 8 yr old plonked on my lap and suggested Alaska. Smarter than I or kid’s intuition? Probably both.

It’s a view from the Hotel Captain Cook in downtown Anchorage – 939 W 5th Ave, Anchorage, AK  viewer99501. A view looking southwest from a corner room on the 17th floor? The hotel has 3 towers and my guess is attached. The building in the center of the frame is the Alaska Legal Services Building, and the lights on the horizon might be from the Ted Stevens airport.

My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Alaska – camping for 2 weeks in the Alaskan fall 10 years ago. But we just flew in and out of Anchorage without spending any time there. We were fortunate enough to get a cloudless view of Mt. McKinley, we met a bear in downtown Juneau, huffed and puffed on a gruelling hike to the Harding Icefield, watched brilliant blue glaciers cleaving with thunderous roars, and stayed up to catch the Northern Lights but never did. Such fun. This drab night view is such a clever pick for Anchorage, considering the characteristic stunning views one usually associates with the city, and Alaska in general.

This is just the second time in all these years that I have found the contest location. The first was the Balmora Lodge window in New Zealand, but I guess it does not count since I sent the entry to the wrong address.

I’ve still not signed up. It’s one of the first things I will do once I get a job; I now feel like a moocher when I am reading the Dish. Love the new layout, higher resolution VFYW Contest photos and the endless scroll. Good luck to you and the team. And thanks.