Odesa in 1933 Through the Lens of an American Photographer

They say that Odesa never really changes, it just looks different over time. So join us on this visual journey back in time to the interwar period during the Soviet occupation...

Branson DeCou was an American traveler and photographer who traveled around the world for thirty years with his wife, also a noted photographer. In 1933, he visited Odesa and took some black-and-white photographs, then had them hand-painted by artists.

Getting his start in 1915 during a visit to the San Francisco World's Fair, where he shot a series of successful evening photographs that were picked up for publication by the company Underwood & Underwood. This success encouraged him so he begins to travel with a camera.

Returning, he gave lectures about his travels, using a projector to show off his approximately 150 glass photographic plates that he had hand-painted with Aniline dyes by American artists, presented to synchronized musical compositions. DeCou traveled most of the USA with his music photo show with his performances, which he called "Dream Pictures" and presented them as "an exciting new kind of entertainment", which was very popular with the audiences of the day!

Two Odesa women who worked as tour guides.Two Odesa women who worked as tour guides.

In 1930, he visited the USSR and made several interesting photo series of Moscow and Leningrad, and on a visit in 1932 in Moscow, he was briefly arrested for suspicious filming in the city center, showing not much has changed. Not long after, in March of 1932, he married Elsie Vera Stanley, with whom he traveled and gave photo lectures. During long performances, designed for several days, they alternated giving the presentations, every other day.

Then, in 1933, he came to shoot the south of the country - Odesa! These 3x4" transparencies were also been colorized... come with us as we stroll the Odesa of days gone by... the city that never really changes!

City view, looking down a Derybasivska Street, crowded with pedestrians. The famous Odesa Passage is on the first corner on the right.City view, looking down a Derybasivska Street, crowded with pedestrians. The famous Odesa Passage is on the first corner on the right.Tourist wait out the rain at the entrance of Londonskaya Hotel (Гостиница Лондонская) on the famous Prymorskyi Boulevard.Tourist wait out the rain at the entrance of Londonskaya Hotel (Гостиница Лондонская) on the famous Prymorskyi Boulevard.Bread delivery on the corner down from St. Paul's Church ("Kirkha") in Odesa.Bread delivery on the corner down from St. Paul's Church ("Kirkha") in Odesa.Young Ukrainians taking in the spectical.Young Ukrainians taking in the spectical.Man with giant wine casks on a horse-drawn wagon.Man with giant wine casks on a horse-drawn wagon.Men and women at Langeron (also called Lanzheron) Beach.Men and women at Langeron (also called Lanzheron) Beach.Odesa children against the backdrop of the opera houseOdesa children against the backdrop of the opera houseA middle-aged woman with four children.A middle-aged woman with four children.Dokhodnyi dom Libmana on Sadova Street, (which has recently has been restored). To the left of it, is the also recently restored Budynok Russova.Dokhodnyi dom Libmana on Sadova Street, (which has recently has been restored). To the left of it, is the also recently restored Budynok Russova.Communist monument on Ekaterininskaya Square with hammer and sickle where the controversial Monument to Catherine II now awaits its fate.Communist monument on Ekaterininskaya Square with hammer and sickle where the controversial Monument to Catherine II now awaits its fate.Primorsky Stairs (Potemkin Steps), with a view from near the top, towards the harbor.Primorsky Stairs (Potemkin Steps), with a view from near the top, towards the harbor.Top of the Primorsky Stairs, where there used to be a cool viewing cafe. What was the life story of the group of children posing for the photographer?Top of the Primorsky Stairs, where there used to be a cool viewing cafe. What was the life story of the group of children posing for the photographer?Torgsin shop ("Pavilion InTourist") in Odesa.Torgsin shop ("Pavilion InTourist") in Odesa.Interior of the Torgsin shop ("Pavilion InTourist") in Odesa.Interior of the Torgsin shop ("Pavilion InTourist") in Odesa.Street view near the harbor, probably Polskyi Descent, with Soviet  propaganda on the buildings.Street view near the harbor, probably Polskyi Descent, with Soviet propaganda on the buildings.Motorist in front of Odesa City Hall, a neoclassical building, built to a design by Francesco Boffo and Gregorio Toricelli in 1828-34.Motorist in front of Odesa City Hall, a neoclassical building, built to a design by Francesco Boffo and Gregorio Toricelli in 1828-34.Tourists on the dock, with buses to take them to their destinations.Tourists on the dock, with buses to take them to their destinations.Odesa National Academic Theater of Opera and BalletOdesa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet Alexander II Column in Shevchenko Park, with a portrait of Stalin in front of it laid out in flowers.Alexander II Column in Shevchenko Park, with a portrait of Stalin in front of it laid out in flowers.In local shops, the windows were lined with portraits of Moskovy occupiers Lenin and Stalin. You won't find this nonsense anymore.In local shops, the windows were lined with portraits of Moskovy occupiers Lenin and Stalin. You won't find this nonsense anymore.

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