The Stores of Pripyat

Entuziastiv Avenue
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Department store at Entuziastiv Avenue
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Inside of the department store
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Grocery store "Berizka"
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Grocery store "Strumok"
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Grocery store interior
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Dining hall "Zustrich"
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1975
Dining hall interior
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Department store "Svitlyachok"
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Dining hall "Druzhba"
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Dining hall interior
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Lenin Avenue
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1975
Entuziastiv Avenue
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Bookstore
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1986
Department store "Svitlyachok"
City: Prypyat'
Date: 1970-1975


The construction of a city or a plant, the practices and experiences of a small company, or a regular school – all of this used to be documented with a photo camera. The photos were then assembled into special customized presentation albums. The creation of such photo chronicles was a common practice in the Soviet Union. They used them as a special element of propaganda by engaging to these assignments employees of the organizations and institutions. Moreover, the activity was promoted and controlled by official authorities.

The albums were of special importance during the large scale infrastructure projects, such as construction of the Chornobyl NPP or the Pripyat city. The customized photo chronicles shape and represent the actual narrative on the selected topic. It is easy to perceive due to its visual and illustrative examples.

The gallery “The Stores of Pripyat” invites to take a look at only one element of the story, however, very expressive. It can often be encountered in the photo albums on the construction and life of the Pripyat atom-city. The images of stores, gastronomes, a department store, as well as canteens and cafes are symbols of welfare in the newly built city. They represent care about “common folk”. It was particularly emphasized by the propaganda in the atom city, a mono city, as its true function was indeed to provide for production and links to the plant.

On the one hand, the fact that usually the stores and other consumer facilities were photographed and shown only from the outside implies the significance of these places as a constituent part of the overall infrastructure. The trading pavilions and small shops integrated into the city are close and easily accessible to citizens. On the other hand, we will never know what was inside the stores, or what the assortment of goods was on the shelves. There are only few exceptions – with a photo taken inside the department store, where one can promptly recognize a staged photo when customers are expressing their interest viewing the shelves with TV sets, clocks, radio transmitters, and music instruments. Another photo of the kind is the one showing a festively decorated interior of a store.

The selected photos come from albums from the collections of the Local History Museum of Slavutych city and the Chornobyl NPP. They make no claims about absolute definitiveness or representation, but rather show certain trends. 

More images are available at the project website of “Urban Images” of the Urban Media Archive.