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Old Odessa

Interesting Sight

Old Odessa (Старая Одесса)
Next to mother-and-law's bridge there is a small alcove preserved by the city. The alcove has a charming little arch bridge (photo below) that is a popular location for newlyweds to take photos. A cast iron griffin statue (photo below) overlook the bridge. The alcove also has a robed woman (photo below) in the center of the flowerbed and a well built in 1858.

Just beyond the old well, look over the edge. Below can be seen a courtyard of a four story building. Women hang their laundry in this courtyard and children are often seen running about. This perspective gives a person a birds-eye view of everyday life in Odessa.

(See the wedding registrar's office, on more about Odessa newlyweds)

Arch bridge

Old Odessa cast iron griffin statue

Female sculpture in Old Odessa alcove

Odessa's water problems
Throughout history it has been difficult for Odessa residents to find suitable drinking water. At one time, water was shipped by boat from Kherson. Odessa is the only city in the world that once had water ration cards, during the World War Two. The cards where for 5 liters per person.

Before the 19th century, Odessites relied on wells for their water. When digging a well in Odessa the waterbed usually lay at a large depth of 10 to 55 meters (33 to 180 feet). Very often the water that was found was salty. Subterranean water pans were often saturated with minerals and also hardly fit for human consumption. Often one well was dug for several households.

The problem decreased considerably in the 19th century with the use of large, 9-12 meters (29.5 - 39 feet) deep, cement cisterns. A cistern was an underground reservoir, which was made of stone or bricks and then layered on the inside with cement. The cisterns were filled with filtered rain water or spring water. Practically every yard in outlying districts of Odessa had a cistern. This is why some of the older houses have roofs with one steep incline towards the courtyard where the rain would flow to the cistern.

Rainwater was collected by means of gutters. A special filter diverted dirty rainwater. The clean rain and thawed snow water then rain thorough ceramic pipes to underwater ducts and finally through coal and gravel filters.

Odessites removed the water from the cisterns with cylindrical metal pulleys. The water was used for live stock, and household washing and bathing.

In 1873 water was diverted by piping from the Dniester river.
Despite this diversion, Odessa's large population still has water shortages. Water is turned off every night around midnight. Certain areas of the city will occasionally have no water for long periods of time.

Old Odessa wells can be found at:

Continue your virtul tour by walking to the Atlantses
Return to the Ekaterininskaya Square, Sabaniyev Most, and Gogolya Street overview
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