On Sunday I got up around 3 a.m., overheated and thirsty, as I sometimes feel at that hour. I got some water in the kitchen and took it into the dining room, where I looked out the window and down the street as I drank. Our ground-floor flat is located on a hill, and this was the view in the distance, looking south.
I've often idly wondered what buildings those are. I had a vague idea they might be in the direction of King's Cross, but I wasn't sure. I decided to figure it out. So I took a few pictures and, the next morning, began plotting trajectories on Google Maps.
Here's the same view in the daytime. Estimating the direction with a ruler and using Google Street View, I finally recognized one of the buildings -- the second-tallest one in the photo, at center left. It's the Hilton London Metropole hotel, located near Paddington Station. Using that as a guide, I realized the big new building with the crane is part of the West End Gate development, just up the street from the Hilton on Edgware Road.
So basically, this is where I'm looking, with our flat the top point:
That's 3.85 km, or 2.4 miles, and it's nowhere near King's Cross (the location of the British Library on the map).
Instead, my sightline goes over St. John's Wood, very close to where I work -- and basically right over the roof of Abbey Road Studios, a place of pilgrimage for every serious Beatles fan. The studios are too low to be seen from our dining room, but the tudor-looking building in the photo is located on Hill Street, just off Abbey Road and right next to the studios.
Turning my head slightly to the left while looking out the window -- so on a slightly different sightline -- I can see the top of the round tower at St. George Wharf in Vauxhall, which is much farther away. (I took this photo yesterday evening, which is why the light is so different.)
It's right on the Thames, about 8.6 km or 5.34 miles away. (It's also a controversial residential building, with units owned almost entirely by rich absentee investors.)
Finally, while looking at the photo above, I realized I could see not only the Vauxhall tower, but beyond it, the Eiffel-tower like structure of the Crystal Palace Transmitting Station. It's a huge broadcasting antenna on a high point in South London, 16.2 km or just over 10 miles away.
It's so cool to finally understand what I'm seeing when I look out the window and down the hill!