Pripyat was a new city, created on the 4th of February, 1970, with the specific purpose of providing accommodation for those working at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was the ninth Nuclear City within the Soviet Union, and although access to Pripyat was never restricted like at other Soviet closed cities, living at Pripyat was the reserve of those that worked for the Soviet nuclear industry.
The city is located on, and named after, the river Pripyat, and lies 100 kilometres north of Kiev, and about twelve kilometres from the Ukrainian border with Belarus. On the 27th of April, 1986 – the day after the nuclear disaster – Pripyat had a population of 49,360, with most of those who lived in the city working at the nearby nuclear power plant. The average age of those that lived at Pripyat was just 26, and the population was growing year on year at an average of 1,500, with most of the growth attributable to births.
In the two days following the disaster, the entire city was evacuated, with those living there taken by bus to Kiev. Eventually another new city, named Slavutych, was created to house those evacuated, a city which lies 50 kilometres north-east of Pripyat.
For the past 31 years Pripyat has been a ghost town, with the 160 apartment blocks, hotel, swimming pool, gyms, the Palace of Culture Energetik, all abandoend and left the were they were back in 1986. Clothes, books, furniture and children’s toys lie scattered about the city, left exactly as they were on the day of evacuation. The Ukrainian authorities believe the city will remain uninhabitable for a further 20,000 years.
The 1st of May was an important date in the Soviet calendar, with each of the republics hosting May Day celebrations parades and festivities. In Pripyat, the newly built amusement park was due to open on May Day of that year. However, because of the nuclear disaster five days earlier on the 26th of April and the evacuation of the city on the 27th, the amusement park was never actually used. On May Day of 1986 Pripyat was already an abandoned city and its remains so today. This year, the amusement will be 31 year old, and the unused Ferris wheel, dodgems and swings continue to rust away.
With an average age of just 26, Pripyat was a very young city. Young families were the predominant demographic norm in Pripyat, necessitating the need for many kindergartens throughout the city. The pictures here were taken in one of the former kindergartens, located in the north of the city in a three storey building.
Pripyat’s football stadium was named the Avanhard Stadium after the Ukrainian sports society trade union, and was home to the football club FC Stroitel Pripyat before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. The stadium also had an athletics track which looped round the outside of the football pitch.