Access to Pripyat, unlike cities of military importance, was not restricted before the disaster as nuclear power stations were seen by the Soviet Union as safer than other types of power plants. Nuclear power stations were presented as being an achievement of Soviet engineering, where nuclear power was harnessed for peaceful projects. The slogan "peaceful atom" (Russian: мирный атом, mirnyj atom) was popular during those times. The original plan had been to build the plant only 25 km (16 mi) from Kiev, but the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, among other bodies, expressed concern about it being too close to the city. As a result, the power station and Pripyat were built at their current locations, about 100 km (62 mi) from Kiev. After the disaster the city of Pripyat was evacuated in two days.
A panorama of Pripyat, circa 2011. The abandoned Chernobyl power plant can be seen in the distance, at top center.
The following statistics are from January 1, 1986.
Population: 49,400 before the disaster. The average age was about 26 years old. Total living space was 658,700 m2 (7,090,000 sq ft): 13,414 apartments in 160 apartment blocks, 18 halls of residence accommodating up to 7,621 single males or females, and 8 halls of residence for married or de facto couples.
Education: 15 primary schools for about 5,000 children, 5 secondary schools, 1 professional school.
Healthcare: 1 hospital that could accommodate up to 410 patients, and 3 clinics.
Trade: 25 stores and malls; 27 cafes, cafeterias and restaurants could serve up to 5,535 customers simultaneously. 10 warehouses could hold 4,430 tons of goods.
Culture: 3 facilities: a culture palace, a cinema and a school of arts, with 8 different societies.
Transportation: Yanov railway station, 167 urban buses, plus the nuclear power plant car park of about 400 units.
Telecommunication: 2,926 local phones managed by the Pripyat Phone Company, plus 1,950 phones owned by Chernobyl power station's administration, Jupiter plant and Department of Architecture and Urban Development.
Pripyat Ferris wheel, as seen from the City Center Gymnasium
The Pripyat swimming pool was still in active use in 1996, a decade after the Chernobyl incident.
In 2009, over two decades after the Chernobyl incident, the Pripyat swimming pool shows irreparable decay after years of disuse.
In 1986 the city of Slavutich was constructed to replace Pripyat. After the city of Chernobyl, this is the second-largest city for accommodating power plant workers and scientists in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
One notable landmark often featured in photographs of the city and visible from aerial-imaging websites is the long-abandoned Ferris wheel located in the Pripyat amusement park.
The external relative gamma dose for a person in the open near the Chernobyl disaster site. The intermediate lived fission products like Cs-137 contribute nearly all of the gamma dose now after a number of decades have passed, see opposite.
The impact of the different isotopes on the radioactive contamination of the air soon after the accident. Drawn using data from the OECD report  and the second edition of 'The radiochemical manual'.
A natural concern is whether it is safe to visit Pripyat and the surroundings. The Zone of Alienation is considered relatively safe to visit, and several Ukrainian companies offer guided tours around the area. The radiation levels have dropped considerably, compared to the fatal levels of April 1986, due to the decay of the short-lived isotopes released during the accident. In most places within the city, the level of radiation does not exceed an equivalent dose of 1 μSv (one microsievert) per hour.
Much of the James Rollins novel The Last Oracle takes place in Pripyat and around Chernobyl. The story revolves around a team of American "Killer Scientist" special agents who must stop a terrorist plot to unleash the radiation of Lake Karachay on the world during the installation of the new sarcophagus over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
The city is also the setting for two missions in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare based around the main square and the amusement park, set after the disaster. Also the multiplayer maps "Bloc" and "Vacant" in the game take place in Pripyat. A small part of the city is seen briefly in a flashback in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and the multiplayer map "Fallen" takes place in Pripyat. Call of Duty: Black Ops features a map called "Grid", which takes place in Pripyat. A level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and a multiplayer map called "Wasteland" takes place in Pripyat and near Chernobyl, respectively.
The PBS documentary Radioactive Wolves analyzes and compares the health of wildlife within and without the Exclusion Zone.
The song "Dead City" (Ukrainian: Мертве Місто) by Ukrainian Symphonic Metal band DELIA is about Pripyat, and scenes from the music video were shot in the city. DELIA's vocalist, Anastasia Sverkunova, was born in Pripyat just before the Chernobyl disaster.
The majority of the 2011 movie Land of Oblivion was shot on location in Pripyat.
The 2012 horror movie Chernobyl Diaries was inspired by the Chernobyl Disaster in 1986 and takes place in Pripyat.
Filmmaker Danny Cooke used a drone to capture shots of the famously creepy abandoned amusement park, some charming residential shots of decaying walls, children's toys and gas masks. He collected them in a 3-minute short film “Postcards From Chernobyl”, released in November 2014, while making footage for the CBS News60 Minutes episode in early 2014 “Chernobyl: The Catastrophe That Never Ended”.