Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.
Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

Can You Identify These Major Global Cities From Space?

Daily Overview's Benjamin Grant wants you to see the world in a whole new way. Here's an exclusive peek at his mind-bending new book.

When Benjamin Grant took his first Overview image, it was basically by accident. “I had started a space club at work,” said the former brand-strategy consultant, “and was giving weekly lectures on going to Mars and whatnot. For one of them, I wanted to focus on satellites—how they work and what’s out there.” That’s when he Googled an image of earth, only to discover the mysterious-looking crop circles of Earth, Tex.

Since December 2013, he’s been exploring the impact of human development on our planet by stitching together and editing satellite photos of the world’s most intriguing corners; he’s looked at everything from Guantanamo Bay to diamond mines in Botswana to the salt ponds outside San Francisco. Up until now, those images have been housed on Grant’s popular Instagram account, @dailyoverview. But on Oct. 25, more than 200 of those images will be available as a stunning hardcover book that lets you see the world as you’ve never seen it before.

“Each overview can represent up to 25 different satellite images,” said Grant, who turns raw data from DigitalGlobe into abstract art through a careful process of cropping, color correcting, and perspectival alignment. The final product, he said, “has the power to pull people in and make them inquisitive,” to “see familiar places in a radical new light,” and to “appreciate the earth and see what we’ve created.”

Here are 10 of the most famous places he’s covered—along with clues to what they are and travel tips, if you're tempted to go. Can you recognize these global capitals from Grant’s unique perspective?

The celeb factor: George and Amal Clooney got married at this city’s stunning Aman Canal Grande back in the fall of 2014.

What’s buzzing: Fears that the city will either flood—or be perpetually flooded by tourists—are on every local’s lips.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

History lesson: You can actually climb to the top of the 180-year-old structure at the center of this photo.

What’s buzzing: Near this site, the ambitious, white tablecloth spot Hexagone is whipping up five-course tasting menus that are well worth the weeks-in-advance reservation, while Clown Bar—on the opposite side of town—is the hip hangout du jour. It’s a no-reservations spot where circus clowns used to put their faces on.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

The unofficial local language: Spanglish.

What’s buzzing: There’s a newly christened neighborhood on this island, built entirely by Argentine real estate magnate Alan Faena. Its hotel was the subject of much fanfare earlier this year, and now all eyes are on am ambitious cultural center and “souk” concept set to open this fall. 

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

Surprise Factor: Though it’s in a predominantly Muslim country, this capital embraces Christmas annually with a massive Winter Festival. Chalk it up to the fact that expats represent 80 percent of the local population.

What’s buzzing: Amusement parks are a new, lowbrow alternative to all the high-rise action in this city—the largest indoor theme park in the world opened here in September, after costing more than $1 billion to build.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

History lesson: This site, where fourteen emperors have lived, is said to contain a million artifacts—which draw more than a million visitors each month.

What’s buzzing: The city’s largest night market closed permanently in June after losing its lease, and gone with it are dozens of stalls peddling scorpion-on-a-stick.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

Surprise Factor: This might be a bustling seaport, but this city-state’s airport is huge point of pride—among other things, it has its own enchanted garden, swimming pool, and movie theater.

What’s buzzing: Just in time for the destination’s 50th birthday, a new National Gallery has been unveiled in the old Supreme Court and City Hall buildings. It’s the world’s first southeast Asian art museum.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

History lesson: There’s a bar toward the upper left corner of this image that has served bitterballen and beer to Old Masters and young locals for more than 400 years.

What’s buzzing: On the overlooked northern side of town, a skyscraper has been built to house everything from a “skybar” to a recording studio for kids to a boutique hotel.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

The local diet: Kale salads and green juices.

What’s buzzing: Thanks to the four-month-old Metro bike sharing program, this city is finally getting an alternative to its bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

Little-known fact: Throughout the year, Orvis teaches urbanites the basics of fly fishing at the lakes in this giant park.

What’s buzzing: The left side of the photo is the northern boundary to this suddenly cool-again area, where chefs such as Joël Robuchon and Alex Stupak are opening restaurants and Baccarat opened its first hotel.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

The local tradition: At an iconic restaurant and pool club overlooking this beach, it’s customary to don Speedos throughout the winter.

What’s buzzing: Anything in the formerly derelict Chippendale area, which is now thrumming with inventive galleries, excellent restaurants, and a new, hip hotel to outdo any other hip hotel in town.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Inc.

The Answers
The Answers
  1. Venice

  2. Paris

  3. Miami

  4. Dubai

  5. Beijing

  6. Singapore

  7. Amsterdam

  8. Los Angeles

  9. New York City

  10. Sydney

BONUS: Rio de Janeiro

Reprinted with permission from Overview by Benjamin Grant,  © 2016. Published by Amphoto Books, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. 


Images © 2016 by DigitalGlobe, Inc.