The Choreography of Urban Arrival

Often the first introduction to a new city is framed by the windows of cars, buses, and trains on the journey downtown from the airport.  It is in this interstitial space that one can scan the removed urban environment which they are entering and feel the nascent metropolitan buzz gradually build into full delirium as they reach the centre of the city.  During the changes between modes of transport, from ground level bus, to elevated train, to subterranean metro, urban dwellers carve out their first impressions of a new city.  The photographs that follow document one trip, through a series of visual reflections, from Budapest Ferihegy International Airport to Batthyány tér metro station on the West bank of the Danube.

Credits: Satellite photo from Google Maps. All other photos by Andrew Wade.


  1. Neat remarks on what we all experience when coming to a new city for the first time...the trip from the airport. Myself, I'm thinking of the numerous times where on this journey I've noticed particular places on the way that seem so foreign at the time, and will be so familiar later.

    In particular your article made me think of my trip when I first arrived in Dhaka for a year-long stay, my first arrival into Helsinki, and my first arrival into New Delhi.


  2. Hi Donny,

    Thanks for your thoughts! It is great that this brought back recollections of your arrivals to Dhaka, Helsinki and New Delhi. I think the journey from the airport, regardless of the particular city, is in some ways a universal experience that is intensified by the fact that you've just spent a few hours in a very sanitised and bland airplane. Once you're released into that new environment, the city has its moment of opportunity to make lasting impressions in your memory and consciousness.

    It's also interesting that there are always different routes from which to enter the city, with normally fast (and expensive) routes taking on a different character from the slower (and cheaper) ones. Riding in a private car or taxi from the airport allows you to avoid direct engagement with the city while scanning the infrastructure and people - a kind of cinematography through the car window. This route is also more flowing and uninterrupted, as one continuous film that gradually builds in intensity.

    Alternatively there is always public transport which sometimes, as in this case, requires several transfers, from bus to train to metro, and all the confusion that might entail. By contrast this route usually makes you feel as though you've been thrown into the urban environment immediately since you're forced to actively navigate your way to the centre. In this way each junction between different modes of transportation recalls the switch between distinct scenes within a film.

    Finally, on longer trips these initial perceptions of the city are coloured by jet lag, which heightens the dream-like sensation.

  3. beautiful pictures


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