My Twitter profile says I’m a Vancouver “flâneuse”. A flâneuse is the feminine version of the French word flâneur, a term popularized in the the 19th century to describe a man of leisure who’d anonymously stroll the streets of Paris to take in the city atmosphere, to people watch and simply observe life as it was unfolding around him – an urban explorer of sorts.
Of course, being a man in the 19th century public realm meant that he could wander as he pleased relatively anonymously, an important aspect of being a flâneur. Could a woman in the 19th century truly be a flâneuse, wander the urban landscape without anyone paying attention? That’s a question for an art history class. But I digress.
I’ve always felt a certain kinship with the flâneur, except rather than strolling Paris, it’s been Vancouver where I meander aimlessly with a camera in hand, admiring the small details of the urban landscape, pondering absolutely everything.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who does this, but then one day years ago I discovered SkyscraperPage, and I knew I wasn’t alone.
“These are my people!” I thought.
Strangely, I never expected to find them under the moniker of “SkyscraperPage”.
But let’s ignore the skyscraper part of the name. SkyscraperPage might have a section devoted to illustrations of the world’s skyscrapers, but the website is much more than that.
The good stuff happens in the SkyscraperPage Forum, specifically in the forums titled “My City Photos A-M” and “My City Photos N-Z”.
Why are these forums great? They’re passionate communities for people who love urban exploration, the modern day flâneurs. And no modern day flâneur would be without a digital camera.
Need a photo reference for a city you’ve never been to? SkyscraperPage’s Forums I tell you.
Curious what life is like in Buenos Aires? Check out this forum thread called “Buenos Aires, Argentina: The city of the Future“.
Wonder what St. John’s Newfoundland really looks like? There’s a photo gallery here that will show you.
Maybe you’re interested in the look and feel of small town Pennsylvania? Read “Bangor, PA“.
How about something that dispels the Canadian stereotypical landscape? “Palm Trees of Canada” will probably do.
It goes on and on.
What’s interesting is that Vancouver seems to get a lot of love on SkyscraperPage from both locals and visitors alike. Here are just a few of the the many Vancouver photo galleries taken by my fellow flâneurs (and flâneuses).