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10 Boom Towns that Went Bust


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Pripyat, Ukraine
An abandoned amusement park in Pripyat, Ukraine, where residents were forced out by the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
An abandoned amusement park in Pripyat, Ukraine, where residents were forced out by the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Known as "The City of the Future," Pripyat was a planned city constructed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s in northern Ukraine. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union built a number of "atom cities" like Pripyat on the hopes of maintaining a new source of energy for progress: nuclear power.

The city was home to 49,000 residents, all connected in some way to a nearby power plant boasting four nuclear reactors. This planned boom town had all the amenities for work and play, even its own amusement park.

On April 26, 1986, a meltdown occurred in Reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, now considered the worst nuclear accident in history. Residents of Pripyat were evacuated a few days later. They were told to pack enough for a three-day leave. No one returned.

Despite the meltdown, operations continued at Chernobyl's three other reactors until 2000. As the radiation levels were deemed too high, Pripyat was left abandoned, and a replacement city, Slavutych, was built some 28 miles (45.1 kilometers) away. To this day, buildings stand empty, visited only by scientists and a handful of tourists annually.

On the next page, we'll see how an unquenchable fire affected another boom town that went bust.


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