Set at the foot of the Alborz mountains, Tehran, once an agricultural enclave characterized by forests and abundant mountain water, developed at the site of a citadel since medieval times. Tehran was first walled during the Safavid era, in the mid-sixteenth century. With the decline of other regional centers, Tehran replaced Shiraz as the capital of the Zand dynasty in the mid-eighteenth century, before being proclaimed the capital of the succeeding Qajar dynasty in 1795. Tehran flourished under Qajar patronage, and the city gained the addition of various gardens and complexes, perhaps the most notable being the Kakh-i Gulistan, or Gulistan Palace.
By the early twentieth century, these walls were subsumed by the continually expanding city, as the population growth reached half a million. From 1870-2/1287-9 AH, Nasir al-Din undertook the city's modernization, extending the city walls, adding decorative towers and twelve new, tiled gates. Inspired by the urban development of Paris under Napoleon III, which al-Din had witnessed personally on a visit abroad in 1873, the new walls were designed with the work of Sebastien Leprestre de Vauban in mind, and the area north of the original city transformed to the likeness of the Boulevard Haussman. New avenues and squares were constructed, among them; Meydan-e Tupkhane (Cannon Square) , Avenue Lalezar (Tulipbed Street), and Ala Od Dwale Under al-Din's direction the city quadrupled in size, and many of the gardens surrounding the city were used for further construction. The Kakh-i Gulistan was rebuilt, and became the centerpiece of the city, with the addition of turreted towers, supervised by Dust 'Ali Khan Nizam al Dawla. Polychrome tiles replaced the painted ornamentation in much of the complex, as did carved stucco and decorative mirror-work. In addition to the Kakh-i Gulistan, summer palaces were constructed in the Shimiranat villages in the city's northern suburbs.
Tehran yet again underwent expansion and modernization efforts in the mid-twentieth century, as the prosperity that accompanied the exploitation of oil from the 1950s accelerated the growth of the city. In 1979, Tehran became a hub for revolutionary activities, aimed at concluding the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The city has continued to be a site of development, with over half of Iran's total industry being based in Tehran, and the construction of many research and educational centers.
Dadar, Taraneh. “English abstract of 'The Story of Tehran'". Translated by Taraneh Dadar. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 116. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Sarguzasht-i Tihran is a historical survey of the city of Tehran, tracing the early development of the city until the downfall of the Qajar dynasty in 1925. In particular, the narrative focuses on the Qajar era at the start of which Tehran became the capital city of Iran.
The book tells the story of ‘places’ with focus on “people” who occupied them. Through an introduction of historical places, it offers a comprehensive account of the major events in the history of Tehran, as well as influential figures that shaped those events.
Sarguzasht-i Tihran provides an interesting insight into the changing life and customs of the city and its inhabitants, seen from the point of view of both local and Western historiographers. The book also covers the advent and development of new technologies such as print, telegraph, rail, telephone, photography and cinema. The gradual development of the banking system, police, municipality, education system, care system and transport system is described, interspersed with stories about the (usually corrupt) private lives of Kings, their ministers, members of the royal family, foreign ambassadors and ordinary people.
The list of the book’s references is exhaustive. In compiling most chapters, the author attempts to include as many different accounts of the same story as possible. Most chapters contain long quotations from the book’s many references which make the narrative style of the book reasonably varied. However, the start and end points of these long quotations are not always clearly marked which can create a slight confusion for the readers.
Sarguzasht-i Tihran is not written in a strictly academic language and is therefore aimed at a wide public readership. It is a useful source of information for anyone wishing to increase their knowledge of Old Tehran as well as history of Iran under the Qajars.