Up High in Pripyat - No.12 Heroes of Stalingrad Street
Pripyat is a city in northern Ukraine, not far from the border with Belarus. It was founded on the 4th of February 1970 and was named after the nearby Pripyat River. It was designated as as the Soviet Union's ninth nuclear city, purpose built to house the workforce of the new Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant located a couple of kilometres away.
Unlike other cities of military importance within the Soviet Union, access to Pripyat was not restricted. Nuclear power stations were seen as being safer than other forms of power generation, and were presented as being an achievement of Soviet engineering, nuclear power was being harnessed for peaceful projects. The slogan of the "peaceful atom" was very popular during the period and utilised in artworks at the Chernobyl Power Plant itself.
On the afternoon of the 27th of April 1986, the day after the Chernobyl disaster, the evacuation of Pripyat was begun, at this time the population of the city was 49,360.
Pripyat was a very modern city for its time, having been purpose built to service the needs of the highly educated young (the average age being 26 years old) workforce of the plant and their families. Within the city there were 160 blocks containing a total of 13,414 apartments, halls of residence also existed to cater for both single people and couples. There was an abundance of public services and amenities; 75 primary schools, 19 secondary schools, 7 professional schools, 1 large hospital, 3 clinics, 25 retail outlets, 27 cafes and restaurants capable of serving 5,535 customers simultaneously, the Palace of Culture "Energetik", a cinema, a school of art, 10 gymnasiums, 3 swimming pools, 10 shooting ranges, 2 stadiums, 1 amusement park and 35 playgrounds. Around the city there were 18,136 trees, 249,247 shrubs and 33,000 roses planted.
Towards the end of our first day in the Zone we headed into Pripyat for the first time, to climb to the top of one of the seven 16 storey apartment buildings located towards the North of the city. These seven buildings are the tallest within Pripyat and gave a great aerial view across the city, it really showed how much nature has reclaimed the city, the taller buildings poking out from amongst the trees. On the distant horizon we could see the Duga-1 arrays that we had visited earlier in the day, nearer was the power plant itself with the silver New Safe Confinement building in clear view.