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The best way to brand a city? With architecture and food

Berlin is big beers and the Fernsehturm TV tower. Paris is the Eiffel Tower, croissants, and baguettes. New York is the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, bagels, and pizza.

Paris [Image: courtesy Traveloka]
As it turns out, when people are asked the first thing that comes to mind when they think of a city, they tend to think about the architecture and food. At least, that’s according to the travel company Traveloka, which recently asked 100 people to illustrate major cities around the world. The drawings, many of which you can see here, are beyond charming. They also illustrate an important thesis: We categorize cities through our eyes and our stomachs, through the built environment and the recipes cooked there.

Perhaps that’s no surprise. Before recent instability, Egypt welcomed 15 million tourists annually to its pyramids (and now it’s campaigning to get those tourists back). About 7 million tourists visit the Eiffel Tower each year. And everybody’s got to eat.

Of course, through another lens, there are also some subtle burns in what you don’t see represented in these drawings. Most notably is in London, which elicits sketches of Big Ben, The London Eye, and even the Queen. But the city has no drawings of food–mirroring global stereotypes about English cuisine. Along the same lines, Venice has neither much food nor architecture in its crowdsourced depictions. Instead, it’s all gondolas. Which is good for the gondola drivers, who earn a surprisingly good living off tourists, while the city is slowly sinking into the water beside them.

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