Pripyat – Then and Now – The Abandoned City Before and After the Chernobyl Disaster

Pripyat - Then and Now - The Abandoned City Before and After the Chernobyl Disaster

A then-and-now look at Pripyat, the city that housed workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and was evacuated after the disaster, through historic pictures and how those scenes look now, after 30+ years of abandonment

Visited October 2019  Ukraine Chernobyl, Ukraine Abandoned since the Chernobyl disaster

Founded on 4th February 1970 and named after the nearby river, Pripyat was the ninth “nuclear city” to be constructed by the Soviet Union. Proclaimed as a city in 1979, the settlement was built to house the workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which was constructed at the same time. By the time of the disaster on 26th April 1986 the population of the city had grown to 49,360 people.

The Pripyat sign on the main road into the city
The Pripyat sign on the main road into the city

Bus Station

The bus station was situated just off Lenin Avenue, the main route into the city of Pripyat. The city was served by 167 urban busses, and the station functioned as an important transport hub between Kiev (150 kilometres away) and the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Pripyat bus station before the city was evacuated
Pripyat bus station before the city was evacuated
Pripyat bus station as it looks now
Pripyat bus station as it looks now

Post Office

The post office was the central communications facility in Pripyat. The building features a large painting on an interior wall, depicting doves symbolising peace, along with cosmonauts and other technological achievements symbolising the superiority of the Soviets.

A group of ladies in the post office, with the panting on the wall behind
A group of ladies in the post office, with the panting on the wall behind
The painting in the post office as it looks today
The painting in the post office as it looks today
A room containing numerous telephone booth when the post office was open
A room containing numerous telephone booth when the post office was open
Telephone booths as seen now
Telephone booths as seen now

Swimming Pool Azure

The Swimming Pool Azure is the largest of three indoor pools within Pripyat, centrally situated on Sportivnaya Street. The pool remained open after the evacuation of the city, and was used by cleanup workers.

A then and now comparison of the swimming pool. The exact view is now obscured by trees
A then and now comparison of the swimming pool. The exact view is now obscured by trees

 

Diving boards in the swimming pool
Diving boards in the swimming pool
The diving boards haven't been used for some time now
The diving boards haven’t been used for some time now

Cafe Pripyat

Pripyat’s cafe is situated on the edge of a large lake and was an affluent gathering location for the young residents of the city. The cafe was commonly refereed to as “The Dish”, owing to the circular observation deck overlooking the water. Sailboats used the lake during the summer, and in winter the water would freeze and was used by children for ice skating.

Cafe Pripyat on a busy summers day
Cafe Pripyat on a busy summers day
The cafe doesn't see as many people now
The cafe doesn’t see as many people now
Boat rides taking place on the lake. The pier is situated in front of the cafe
Boat rides taking place on the lake. The pier is situated in front of the cafe
The steps and railings can still be seen
The steps and railings can still be seen

Lenin Square

The central area of the city at the end of Lenin Avenue, Lenin Square was surrounded by some of city’s most iconic and important buildings including the Palace of Culture, the Restaurant and Hotel Polesye. The Palace of Culture was named “Energetik”, a play on words as it not only means “energetic” (lively) but also translates to “power plant worker”.

Corner of Kurchatov Street and Lenin Avenue
Corner of Kurchatov Street and Lenin Avenue
Corner of Kurchatov Street and Lenin Avenue now
Corner of Kurchatov Street and Lenin Avenue now
The Palace of Culture on a snowy winter day
The Palace of Culture on a snowy winter day
The Palace of Culture "Energetik" as seen now
The Palace of Culture “Energetik” as seen now
The Palace of Culture comparison shot
The Palace of Culture comparison shot
View across the central square where a community event was being held
View across the central square where a community event was being held
The sign boards are still visible in the foreground
The sign boards are still visible in the foreground

Polissya Hotel

As featured in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the Polissya Hotel is one of the tallest buildings in Pripyat. Situated on Lenin Square, the hotel was built in the mid-1970s to house delegates and guests visiting Pripyat.

The Polissya Hotel in the central square
The Polissya Hotel in the central square
Then and now views of the Polissya Hotel merged into one
Then and now views of the Polissya Hotel merged into one
The Polissya Hotel and City Administration building
The Polissya Hotel and City Administration building
The exact view above is now obscured by trees
The exact view above is now obscured by trees

Department Store

The Department Store on Druzby Narodiv street is a large glass fronted building where residents of Pripyat could shop. The view of the shop is now mostly obscured, but the distinctive lettering on the roof can be glimpsed through gaps between the trees.

The department store with large glass frontage
The department store with large glass frontage
The graphics on the windows can still be seen
The graphics on the windows can still be seen

Amusement Park

The amusement park is located centrally in the city, just behind the Palace of Culture. It was due to be opened for May Day celebrations on 1st May 1986, but those plans were disrupted by the accident at the power plant. In an attempt to keep residents calm before being instructed to evacuate the city, the amusement park was opened early on 27th April for a couple of hours, and has not been used since. The Ferris wheel has now become iconic of the abandoned city and the Chernobyl disaster.

A then-and-now selfie at the Ferris wheel
A then-and-now selfie at the Ferris wheel

Tree of Nations

The “Tree of Nations” or “Friendship of Peoples” monument is a metallic obelisk depicting the 25 nationalities that moved to Pripyat from all around the Soviet Union. Most of the metal in Pripyat has been stolen by looters, so this has done well to survive.

The "Tree of Nations" monument
The “Tree of Nations” monument
The "Tree of Nations" now surrounded by trees
The “Tree of Nations” now surrounded by trees

Fresh Food Stores

Located along Pripyat’s main street, Lenin Avenue, there are a number of shops and stores. One such shop was a fresh food outlet, featuring the a sign above which translates to “Meat, Fish, Vegetables”. Now only glimpses of the store can be seen through the trees, and it still features a decorative mosaic on the side.

Lenin avenue is now completely lined by trees obscuring the buildings
Lenin avenue is now completely lined by trees obscuring the buildings
The Meat, Fish and Vegetables store when it was open
The Meat, Fish and Vegetables store when it was open
The same shop now, viewed between the trees
The same shop now, viewed between the trees
A mosaic on the side of a store along Lenin Avenue
A mosaic on the side of a store along Lenin Avenue
This nice mosaic is still visible on the side of the shop
This nice mosaic is still visible on the side of the shop

Prometheus Cinema

The Prometheus Cinema features a mosaic by Ivan Lytovchenko on one wall, created in 1975. A popular destination in its day, the cinema featured a statue of Prometheus in front of the building. The statue has since been moved, and is now positioned in front of the Chernobyl power plant.

The Prometheus Cinema and statue
The Prometheus Cinema and statue
Mosaic on the side of the Prometheus Cinema
Mosaic on the side of the Prometheus Cinema
The statue of Prometheus situated in front of the Chernobyl Power Plant
The statue of Prometheus situated in front of the Chernobyl Power Plant

Propaganda

As with all Soviet cities, a lot of propaganda was places around the street and displayed on walls. Some of the propaganda still remains around Pripyat

Propaganda sign boards in Pripyat
Propaganda sign boards in Pripyat
The propaganda sign as seen now
The propaganda sign as seen now

Rooftop View

A view of over the rooftops of Pripyat and the Chernobyl Power Plant itself in the distance. Only the tallest buildings are now visible above the trees, and the New Safe Confinement (NSC) over reactor 4 dominated the skyline.

View over the rooftops of Pripyat towards the Chernobyl Power Plant
View over the rooftops of Pripyat towards the Chernobyl Power Plant
The same view, now with the NSC in place and sun rising behind the plant
The same view, now with the NSC in place and sun rising behind the plant

Reactor Hall

And to finish off, a shot inside one of reactor halls, as it was being commissioned, and how it looks now
And to finish off, a shot inside one of reactor halls, as it was being commissioned, and how it looks now

 

Author: Andy Kay | Facebook | Flickr | Instagram

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