The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #14

Vfyw-contest_9-4_

A different approach for the holiday weekend. A reader writes:

I think you're just throwing us a bone here, since you assume that no one will play on Labor Day weekend.  I've never tried the contest before because they all looked too difficult, but I was able to google that trolley in seconds, so I thought this one would be easy.  The trolley appears to be the MBTA Green line in Boston.  The street appears to be Commonwealth Ave.  However, I've been up and down it three times in Google maps now, and I don't see a turnaround like the one in the picture.  Perhaps it's not as easy as I suspected ...

Another writes:

I never thought I'd see one I'd know so immediately!  My dad grew up in Brookline and later my grandmother moved back there; I myself lived right off Comm Ave for years while in grad school. I grew up in Boston. I love seeing home!  And that shot is Beacon Street if ever anything was. Admittedly, it's been six years since I left so I had to double-check with Google Street View to get the exact address.  Google says it's 1207 Beacon, which sounds about right.  After Sarajevo and East Timor and god knows what else all over the world, I'm really cheered up seeing a place I know and love!

Another:

You are going to get a ton of correct answers to this one.  I'm a little curious as to how many people who actually live in that building write in.

Another:

This VFYW was almost shamefully easy. A quick glance indicates it's the U.S. (cars, parking meters, possibly Georgian- or Gothic- style architecture of the building in the foreground). Mbta3686clinewashsqThe dead giveaway is the Kinki-Sharyo Type 7 light rail vehicle in the background: It bears the unmistakable silver and teal paint scheme of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Green Line in and around Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.  A quick scan down the street with Google Maps' satellite view looking for a courtyard with a fountain led me to 1209 Beacon Street, Brookline, Massachusetts. According to Google Earth, the second-floor window from which the photo was taken is at about 42°20'35.01"N, 71° 6'57.06"W.

Total searching time: under 5 minutes. Also, if it makes a difference for the run-off, I've spent a total of one day in Boston in my life but have studied its transit system a great deal from afar. The Green Line is rather well-known, as it runs through America's oldest subway tunnel. I knew my master's degree in transportation systems engineering would pay off one day!

Another:

I'd go GoogleMap the son of a bitch to figure out the exact latitude and longitude of the window, and the hour at which the photo was taken, and what the photographer's horoscope said that morning, but here in Massachusetts we're having a lovely respite from a week of heat, so I'm going outside.

Another:

Vfyw1 First, modern cars + right hand side = America.  Then I saw the trolley.  I could recognize that trolley anywhere:  It's the late 1980s rolling stock of the MBTA Green Line built by Kinki Sharyo, which they had to buy in an emergency because the Boeing-Vertol models were so terrible that they had to reinstate the PCC cars from the 1950s.  Given that, the above-ground location narrows the scope even further to somewhere to the immediate west of Boston proper (i.e., Back Bay, South End, Beacon Hill, etc.).

Let's go even further.  The design of the above-ground track in conjunction with the road rules  out the D Line (which is independent of the roads, for the most part).  The E Line can Vfyw3also be ruled out, for Huntington Avenue (which is where the trolley is grade separated up until about Brigham Circle, which it then becomes part of the road) is a wider road and has no trees lined to it.  The vast majority of the B Line is also ruled out due to lack of trees and road layout, and after looking through the section of B Line of which this picture could have come from (the last three stops, basically, from Chiswick Road west), that can be ruled out as well.  This leaves the C Line, of which almost the above-ground portion is based in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Because I'm assuming that a lot of people are going to get the city right, I'm going to attempt to nail down the address.  The angle of the cars behind the track suggest that this is one of the C Line parking lots, and looking closely at the upper left and the fact that the trolley doesn't look in motion, it is near an intersection and likely a stop.  Given the size of the trees by the tracks, this means it is somewhere after St. Mary's Street (the first above-ground stop), before Coolidge Corner (the Vfyw2major stop on the C Line, and where I briefly used to live), and the building from which the shot came from the south side of Beacon Street.  Roving on Google Maps gives me a direct hit.  From the street view, it was hard to confirm it due to some excess greenery, but the red building across the street (the Holiday Inn Boston-Brookline) gives me the confirmation.  Thanks to someone leaving some registered addresses, I'm going to take a stab: 1207 Beacon Street, just off St. Paul Street and its respective stop.

Another:

The Green Line? Seriously?

You guys are just trying to figure out how many people actually look at this contest, aren't you?  Your answer unveiling is going to have to be reformatted this week, due to a dearth of erroneous replies. Of course, now I'll have to come up with a great story to actually be the winner of the book.  Fortunately, it just so happens that the fountain in the photo was brought over from the old country by my great grandfather, and at his request, we buried his ashes beneath it when he died.  This is why I proposed to my wife right there in that courtyard many years later.  And next Sunday, my newborn son will be baptized in those very waters.

Another:

Yawn. Light rail image search for trains with green stripe: Boston. Find MTA map, guess Green Line, follow in Google Maps to U-shaped driveway at 1209 Beacon St. Too bored to figure out the apartment number. Nite, nite.

Another:

I expect you'll get lots of complaints that this was too easy, but it was just right for me!  The view screamed "New England in fall" but Googling that wasn't going to get me anywhere. I decided the green-and-white tram was my best bet, and sure enough, searching for images of that while bearing 'New England' in mind quickly lead me to the Boston MBTA Green Line. They have a super-useful Interactive Street Map. I searched along it in Satellite view, looking for where the tram line ran in the middle of road, shaded by trees. I spotted the fountain and courtyard after about 15 minutes. Here's the building's Wikipedia page and here it is on Google Streetview. The building across the road, with a distinctive flash of green just visible, is a Holiday Inn. Love this contest!

Another:

The name of the apartment complex is Richmond Court, owned by aptly named Sullivan & Co.

Another:

It's an apartment building on the National Register of Historic Places. According to this site: "Richmond Court was one of the first -- possibly the first -- courtyard apartment buildings in the  country. Built in 1898, it is set back and separated from the noise and bustle of Beacon B&wStreet by an iron fence, brick and stone posts, a fountain, and private gardens. Richmond Court was designed by Ralph Adams Cram who went on to design All Saints Church, further west on Beacon Street, as well as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, and many buildings at West Point and Princeton University" ... which included the monstrous chapel opposite McCosh Hall, where I used to work. 

Another reader sent a black-and-white photo from the turn of the century (click to enlarge). Another:

Since this one is straightforward, I thought I would try to go the extra mile and try to figure out whose window this is.  The town of Brookline's municipal website has an assessor's atlas that  shows the allocation of street addresses to the different sections of Richmond Court.  We appear to be in the 1211 section, on the second floor.  After finding the assessor's atlas, I went to the Mass. Norfolk County Registry of Deeds website, hoping Floorplanthat the Richmond Court units would turn out to be individually-titled owner residences.  Alas, Richmond Court appears to consist of rental units - good for affordable housing, but bad for me.  Ultimately, I cannot say which apartment number this is, or who rents it, since rental lease documents are not public.  The entire building and its land appear to be owned by a trust.  No doubt the historical significance of the structure and its status on the National Register have thus far prevented a condo conversion.  In any case, if I Google "1211 Beacon St" with "Brookline", I find that a doctor and a couple lawyers have recently lived in the units with the 1211 address.  That's Brookline!

Another reader found the original floorplan here. Another:

The only business at this address is a dentist, who gets great reviews on Yelp.  Not sure if this is his office. 

Another:

I'd bet that some of those cars parked in front belong to patients of Dr. Ken Thomases, the dentist next door.  Which reminds me, I'm looking for a dentist up here; anybody know if he's any good?

Another:

I am not sure of the address, but I know the building well enough.  After graduating from college I went to India, to study Carnatic music and travel around.  When back in Boston, I spent a year working painting apartments, for the company that owned this building. In a way, this is really a view from MY window, because unless they later installed more energy efficient windows,  I probably painted the bit of window frame visible in the lower left corner. Those were great apartments, and rent controlled in those days.  How I wanted one of them!

Another:

I have a particular fondness for this VFYW, and this building. I am a realtor, and have rented several units here. I have also worked as a bartender in the building next door, ridden that C-line T right outside 100 gazillion times, received over a dozen parking tickets from those pesky meters along Beacon St. (thanks Fenway Park parking prices), occasionally stayed at the Holiday Inn with the green awning across the street, endured the horrible Brookline Red Cab drivers parked out front, and now work one block away. Great to get one that is so personal to me!

Another:

Now that's amusing. I used to live in that same apartment complex on the other side of the courtyard.  It's a great place to watch the Boston Marathon as the runners go right by about 2 miles from the finish line.

Another:

I know exactly where that is. I lived in that apartment complex for four years, and as pristine  as the courtyard looks right now, you should see it on Marathon Monday. This building is on Mile 24 of the route, and it seems like every person in the buildings invites their 50 or 60 Marathonclosest friends over to celebrate. Start early, stay late. Super super fun. Epic disaster on Monday night. I miss living there already!

Another:

This looks like the view from the third floor of the building where I live at 1211 Beacon Street in Brookline,  Massachusetts. Attached is a view from my window on the fourth floor of our building during the Boston Marathon, which runs right in front. Thanks for the view!

Another:

I look at the contest picture every week and wonder how anyone can even make a guess. I've almost stopped reading the guesses you post because it makes me feel something like stupid or unworldly (or that I'm spending too much time actually working at my job). But this week I've got it ... because my sister lived in this building about 5 years ago. I emailed her to be sure and she says she was on the other side of the hallway (and one floor up, she thinks), but used the same entrance. I'm not sure if actually having been (nearly) in the place of the photographer is "cheating." If so, thanks for the jolt of electricity I felt when I saw that the picture was her old apartment building.

Another:

I went to BU and actually have friends who used to live in the building, and in fact briefly dated a girl who lived there. That's a great little courtyard in front, which made for some nice BBQs and the like over the years. Never expected to see somewhere so close to home on here.

Another:

My girlfriend used to live in the same complex (1215 Beacon) so I recognized this as soon as I saw it.  On our 3rd date, a little over three years ago, we had our first hug was on the sidewalk right outside the gate when I dropped her off after seeing a movie.  Is that enough to make us the winners this week?

Another:

Having the Green Line train in the picture from the MBTA made this too easy.  I lived in that area for four years.  Randomly, I spent a night playing German board games in that exact apartment complex three years ago.  This picture provided a strange, vivid flashback to a night I barely remember.

Another:

The funny thing is, I didn't even need to know about transit in order to get this one.  After I finished undergraduate education, I spent a year in Boston as an Americorps volunteer for a non-profit called the Urban Ecology Institute.  During that time, I went on a date or two with a friend of a friend who lived in that apartment complex.  Alas, it didn't work out (for a number of reasons, including her and my mom having the same last name), but I saw the picture today and made me think about that young woman, that apartment building, and what could have been.

Another:

It would appear that the residents of this particular building have created a Facebook group on its behalf.

Another:

I’ve been following these contests with amazement, wondering how folks have been able to figure out such random places so accurately.  So I was quite surprised to not only recognize the city in the photo, but also recognize the location as being the old apartment of a friend.  A two minute search on Google Maps confirmed it, so I e-mailed my friend to check. She says, “That is totally my old apartment!  Good eye.  If I were a betting person, I would say it was taken from the third or maybe the fourth floor of 1211 Beacon Street (I was on the second, and it looks higher).” This was a fun experience for me.  I was surprised how easy it was to recognize a city I’ve called home, and how easily I recalled a location I have only been to at night during the winter.   Thanks for providing a great excuse to catch up with an old friend!

Another:

Picture1 Picture2 Picture3

You can't possibly know how much this one meant for me to find. I am a 2L law student currently at Boston University (a great law school, but not really one of those dastardly ivy-league schools that has been the topic of recent debate on your site). I work as a Resident Assistant at BU to help pay my way through school, just a block or two West of Fenway Park. I was so disappointed to learn recently that I had to be "on-call" for all of labor-day weekend and labor day itself, meaning that I am not allowed to leave a 10 minute radius from my area of campus. I spent much of Friday night and early Saturday morning dealing with a very serious student issue, so I didn't sleep much. When things finely calmed down this afternoon, I checked your blog, and it just put a smile on my face after an otherwise long and sad day.

While I had never been by this specific building, I had a hunch in might be in my neighborhood. I decided to take a walk down Beacon Street for about 10 minutes (making sure not to leave my zone in case of emergencies on campus), and sure enough I found it about three blocks from my apartment.  I attached a few pics taken outside, but alas I lost my connecting cable and had to upload camera phone pics of the pics. If I get a chance I can send along better pics later. Thank you again for the amazing treat.

Thanks to you; those pics are better than you realize. Another:

This is Beacon Street, just a few doors up from St. Paul Street. I can't believe I know an exact location for one of these; I'm so excited!  I'm going to drive Pic1over and get the exact address now.  [next email]  I couldn't see the exact number, but Google says it's 1223 Beacon, so I'll go with that. It was definitely taken from the second floor, probably the back corner window as seen in my poor quality iPhone pic.

Another:

Pic3 My wife and I just moved to Boston, so imagine our surprise and delight when our favorite photo game hit so close to home!  We immediately recognized the green line train and knew the image was captured in Boston.  As a fun little Saturday diversion, we decided to walk to Cleveland Circle (the end of the C Line) and take the train until we found the exact spot.  We probably looked a bit ridiculous peering out the windows of the train, or maybe we just looked like your garden variety Boston tourists, but we finally found the building on Beacon Street in Brookline. 

Another:

Since the addresses on Street view were approximate, I decided to bike over there to find out Pic2 the exact address.  The window in question is at 1211 Beacon Street, St. Albans Hall, part of Richmond Court.  A plaque on the wall mentions it's in the National Register of historic places and was completed in 1898.  I've included a picture of the window from the courtyard.

Another:

Pic4 Long time reader, first time participant.  While I wouldn't know Islamabad from Kuala Lumpur from Cape Town, the sight of the green line train told me that this had to be somewhere in/near Boston - practically in my own backyard!  For years I commuted into Boston and there are only a few locations where the T runs at street level.  Google maps gave me the location, although in the Google street view the courtyard is obscured by vines.  After a short field trip and some research I found out the place.  I saw at least two other suspected Dish readers checking out the location and snapping photos so I know that I'm not the only one with the correct answer.

Another:

My girlfriend and I were quickly able to find the window using Google Earth, then we paid a Pic5 visit to the site to take some pictures.  In the few minutes that we were there, another couple arrived also to take pictures of the window (they asked us "are you guys here from View From Your Window too?"). I'm guessing that your inbox this week is going to have more than a few winning responses containing photographic evidence.

Another:

A million people will get this, but I'll try anyway. Here's an overhead shot from Google Maps. I'm no match for the folks who can nail Estonia or Islamabad, but I'm a Boston boy, and I rode the Green Line for a long time, in every sense.

Another: 

I feel guilty even emailing, as I walked by this exact location earlier today after a fun Labor Day Oreo Fry.  (It was just as much fun as it sounds.  And better.)  I appreciate the inclusion of Boston/Brookline in the VFYW contest - the way the Sox have been performing recently, we can surely use the pick-me-up!

Another:

I suspect a bunch of readers will get this one, and the trickiest part is not confusing Brookline Terrier with Boston, which surrounds Brookline on three sides.  This is my first contest, and I don't have any funny ties to the picture, other than I live just down the street and I'm pretty sure my dog has relieved himself in front of that courtyard. And how can you say no to this face?

Another:

I lived between the B and C lines. Sometimes I would get off at Coolidge Corner, the next stop, and grab dinner at Rami's, which had the best falafel, or Anna's Taquiera, which had the best burritos in town. I moved back to SoCal a few years ago after living in Boston for a decade. While I don't miss much about Boston, particularly the weather and Celtics fans, I do miss my friends and days like I am imagining this one to have been. I especially enjoyed this time of year, when I'm guessing that this photo was taken. Fall is approaching but the days are still warm and less humid; the nights are finally starting to cool off; and some leaves are hinting at the fall foliage to come (I have no doubt that some of your readers will be able to identify the trees and which ones tend to turn first).

The photo was actually taken last October. Another:

I've never even been to Boston or the Northeast.  I'm just a broke Georgia redneck who can't afford to travel.  This is my vacation - scouring the globe to win this addictive contest every Saturday. I went to YouTube and watched a half dozen videos of train fanatics, who actually record their subway rides on MBTA and post them.  I road that green line all over Boston.

Another:

How did I find it?  Saw the commuter train.  Looked for similar pictures with Google images.  Figured it was probably the MBTA Green line. Decided an Andrew Sullivan reader in the Boston area would probably be a student (you know, one of those elites Conor likes to complain about).  Saw the Green line goes to the Boston College and Cleveland Circle area, then dropped into Google Maps to search for the roundabout with a fountain in the middle. Noticed Beacon Street had the rail in the middle, and from there, it was easy.

For the record, I've only visited Boston once, spent all my time downtown, and I've never been to Boston in the fall:

Another:

It's taken over an hour, entirely on a mobile phone, but it's been fun.  I guess this means the contest was too easy, but I'm chuffed.  Sitting in bed with a mobile phone I can track down the precise window on another continent.  This really is an age of miracles - it's nice to be reminded of that sometimes.

Another:

Imagine for a moment how difficult the VFYW contest would have been only fifteen years ago.  I certainly wouldn't have been able to succeed in less than fifteen minutes, without leaving my bedroom!  Now all I need is just a few context clues and an internet connection.

Another:

So about 8% of the 150 guessers got Islamabad right.  By going to the US this week, I predict you’ll have over 300 entries and over half will get the city and state (with the winner probably able to tell us all something interesting about that fountain).  I’m addicted to the contest, and you are mixing in just the right amount of easier and harder images.  I get close about one out of five, but can be completely off about half – being able to nail one every so often is just the right hook to create an addiction. Thanks for the diversion on a rainy Anchorage morning.

Closer to 600 actually. Only a few dozen guesses were not Brookline. Perhaps the most spectacular miss:

I usually spend so much time trying to figure out all the possibilities, based on topography, architecture and paving styles that by the time I have a guess it's already Wednesday morning. And I'm still wrong. So this time, I'll get it over with quickly and guess Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila, Philippines. I believe that's the MRT blue line running along the median. I await my humiliation.

Another:

I'm sure the winning entry will be from some enterprising Boston-Area college student who spent all day Saturday riding the green line and, having found the spot, took a photo of themselves climbing the tree outside the window in question, but for me, seeing that circular driveway and those stone-topped pillars on Google earth and having the thrill of knowing I got it was all the reward I needed.  What a great feature the window view and the contest are. You guys make me a believer in blogs.

The winning entry goes to a previous near-winner of one of our most difficult puzzles:

I won't be the first of the hundreds that send this in to you. And I didn't ask my girlfriend to marry me right at St. Paul's MBTA stop or anything. I got Lausanne because I lived there. I got this one out of luck, because while I never lived there, one week ago I moved to Boston. After four years of long-distance relationship that began in Beirut, then variously involving Québec, Geneva, Lausanne, New Haven, and Boston, my girlfriend and I are finally living in the same place. "Même maison" has been our mantra for a long time, even though it has come at some career costs. I'd been visiting her on some weekends over the past year, and she lived about four blocks from here. We passed it a handful of times.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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