The main Odessa in the world is a city in Ukraine on the Black Sea with a population over a million. It began existence as a Tatar fortress in the 14th century, but it wasn’t named Odessa until the 18th century. The growing city was named by Catherine the Great of Russia in honor of the Greek colony of Odessos that once stood where the city of Odessa now burgeons.
Ruth and I became much more knowledgeable about Odessa, Ukraine, last evening when we watched a 1925 movie called The Battleship Potemkin, which was filmed there. Surprisingly, we found it on Apple TV. Because it was originally a silent film, the 63 minute version we watched had only Russian subtitles and no English translation. However, we understood it well because we had read about it in an old movie book. It has a famous scene on an outdoor Odessa staircase in which a baby carriage with a baby in it plummets down it after the baby’s mother is killed by troops.
Odessa was the scene of a major battle in a 1905 revolution. A mutiny occurred on a warship named The Potemkin. Scenes of this shipboard uprising are graphically shown with some men being thrown into the Black Sea. This mutiny led to a workers uprising in the city of Odessa, and hundreds of its citizens were murdered by soldiers on a giant staircase. This is vividly shown in the film directed by the great Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein. Those who know movies rhapsodize about this innovative, ahead-of-its-time film. Rightly so. It’s a living history book.
The largest Odessa in the USA is the city in Texas. I found 3 populations for it while doing research. It’s for certain more than 100,000 people but fewer than 120,000. Ruth and I have spent time in Odessa, TX, the boyhood home of President George W. Bush. We toured his parent’s house. Odessa is a Russian girl’s name. It’s probably apocryphal, but it’s said that some railroad workers in West Texas claimed that the town of Odessa reminded them of the one in Russia. Another attraction in Odessa, TX that is small but gets raves is the Presidential Archives & Leadership Library that moved to the UT Permian Basin campus in 2002. Both Odessa and its sister city Midland have become energy superstars. There are 7 other Odessas with populations in the US. The 2nd largest one is in Missouri. The Odessas in West Virginia and Georgia have dwindled to mere bumps in the road.