Odessa, the principal mercantile city of southern Russia, is situated on the northern shore of the Black sea, ninety miles west-southwest of Kherson, and three hundred and ninety miles north of Constantinople. The growth of this emporium has been quite extraordinary — its foundations having been laid, by order of the empress Catherine II., so late as 1792, after the peace of Jassy, with the Turks. It was intended to serve as an entrepot for the commerce of the Russian dominions on the Black sea, and has, in a great measure, answered the intention of its founders. It has been said, indeed, that a better locality might have been chosen; and in proof of this, it is stated that there are no springs nor fresh water within three miles of the town; that the vicinity is comparatively barren and without wood; and that, not being on or near the mouth of any great navigable river, its communications with the interior are difficult and expensive.
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Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855