Baltimore and Odessa Sister Cities – two cities bound by a plethora of synergies
This editorial is offered by Karina Mandell and Mark White, Chair and Vice-Chair of Baltimore-Odessa Committee, Baltimore Sister Cities (see https://www.sistercities.org/).
Baltimore Skyline – Photograph courtesy of Visit Baltimore at BALTIMORE.org“
Sister Cities since the 1970’s Baltimore, Maryland, USA and Odessa, Ukraine have much in common, both are major seaports and have been since their inception in the 1700’s (both cities were founded in the 1700’s).
Both are internationally recognised centers of higher education. Both host world renowned medical institutes, including medical eye institutes that are foremost in their fields.
As one gets to know the two cities one comes to understand why they were and are natural sister cities. Now let’s look at some case-by-case comparisons:
Founding – Baltimore was the offshoot of a British Royal decree granting the area that is now Maryland to the Lords Calvert. Odessa was founded by Tsarist Royal decree under Catherine the Great – so both cities were essentially founded “from scratch” “by royal decree”.
Ports – First and foremost both cities are ports that are key to their regions economic well-being and serve as transportation and logistics hubs for import and export of goods for their respective nations. Both cities started around what is now a “central/inner” harbour, which is the core of their respective “central “cities and from which extensive port facilities have grown that far transcend the original port areas.
Transportation and Logistics Hubs – More than ports both cities are transportation and logistics hubs to their respective countries interiors, first rail and then road. With highways and metros connecting Baltimore to both Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, it is the perfect location for both citizens as well as businesses to have extensions that reach beyond just Baltimore City.
Architecture: Baltimore – “Charm City” American Federalist at its base / Odessa – Baroque from its original design. Known for their charm (in fact Baltimore’s sobriquet is “Charm City”) and elegance (Odessa is known for the classic “Baroque” elegance that has marked its broad boulevards, since it was commissioned by Catherine the Great as a city to impress the world) these cities each in its own way exudes a captivation that enchants all who are fortunate enough to experience them. While Odessa revolves around the original center city and ocean front neighbourhoods stretching out from its downtown, Baltimore is a city of neighbourhoods each with its own unique charm and pride – together these two cities represent excellent examples of urban planning and do much to complement one another.
Medicine – Baltimore and Odessa are homes to some of their nations original medical institutions, institutions that evolved to some of the world’s finest hospitals and medical teaching facilities, two of which are Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore and the Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy in Odessa, institutions that have much in common and frequently work with one another.
Entertainment (Culture and Sports) – Whether one is looking for a symphony, opera, a festival, a movie, a sporting event, live theatre, zoos, aquariums, a museum, a “living” piece of history, or another form of entertainment Baltimore and Odessa offer it all. Amongst its many attributes, Baltimore hosts an opera house (the Lyric), a symphony hall, a classic live arts theatre (the Hippodrome), major (United States) league baseball (the Orioles) and U.S. football (the Ravens) teams. Amongst its many attributes Odessa has the Philharmonic hall and the Opera and Ballet Theatre, one of the finest opera houses in the world. Both cities host numerous festivals throughout the year highlighting their rich and diverse culture. Baltimore’s ArtScape Festival is the area’s largest free arts festival, attracting 350,000+ attendees over three days featuring 150+ fine artists, fashion designers and craftspeople. Baltimore has many sites worth seeing such as the Fort McHenry site of a key battle in the War of 1812, which was the inspiration for the United States National Anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner”, and the National Aquarium (United States National Aquarium as designated by the U.S. Congress in 1979). Odessa also has many sites worth seeing such as the Potemkin Staircase, the famous setting of the historic movie “Battleship Potemkin“, and a “gateway’ to Odessa and Ukraine.
Dining – Whether one wants fine dining, a family meal, fast food, or a bistro, Baltimore and Odessa offer it all – whether strolling along the cities’ waterfront, in the cities’ center of snuggled into one the cities’ many neighbourhoods these cities offer the best in a diverse (multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-social-economic) dining. Most known for its seafood, the variety of crab dishes, are a favourite of local and tourist alike.
Parks and “Green Space” / Promenades – Baltimore and Odessa are both the homes of “promenades” that line their waterfronts, ideal for strolling on a quiet evening (or a sunlit day), or for taking in one of the many attractions that line their waterfronts, or dining at one of the many fine restaurants overlooking the water; these promenades mark the cities as world class centers for a tourist destination (or for locals to enjoy). Away from the waterfronts, green space abounds in both cities – whether walking through one of Baltimore’s numerous “creekside” parks (or in one its other numerous parks) or strolling on Odessa’s tree lined boulevards or numerous other parks both cities offer a significant amount of “green space” that make them very habitable urban metropolis.
Education – Baltimore and Odessa are both centers of higher education in their own regions (oblast) and nations, as well as internationally both cities are the homes of many renowned universities. Baltimore is home to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, a world renowned medical and research institution that attracts both doctors and patients from across the globe. University of Maryland Baltimore County is known for it’s specialty in cybersecurity while Towson is known for producing some of the region’s best teachers. The schools are not only academically rigorous but also offer a variety of locals, whether by the ocean, in the mountains or in the city, students can choose their perfect location for study.
Based on these and many other shared attributes Baltimore and Odessa are natural Sister Cities – and given the cosmopolitan, international trade, cultural and educational nature of these cities (since their inception), their citizens are natural city ambassadors to the world and for one another to promote the ideals of Sister Cities International as originally envisioned by President Eisenhower.