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.
Esmailpour Ghouchani, Iradj. "Statistics of the Capital,
Tehran (Documents from Tehran’s Social History During the Qajar Era)."
Translated by Niki Akhavan. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2014, 16.
سعدوندیان، سیروس و اتحادیه، منصوره. آمار دارالخلافه تهران: اسنادی از تاریخ اجتماعی تهران در عصر قاجار. تهران: نشر تاریخ ایران، ١٣۶٨، چاپ اول، ٦۵١ص.
Sa‘dvandiyan, Sirus and Ittihadiyah, Mansurah. ’Amar-i Dar al-Khilafah-i Tihran: Asnadi az Tarikh-i Ijtima‘i-i Tihran dar ‘Asr-i Qajar. Tehran: Markaz-i Furush, Nashr-i Tarikh-i Iran, 1990/1991, 1st edn, 651pp.
Statistics of the Capital, Tehran (Documents from Tehran’s Social History During the Qajar Era)
آمار دارالخلافه تهران: اسنادی از تاریخ اجتماعی تهران در عصر قاجار
This book consists of three documents from the Qajar era. The references for these documents are cited in the preface of the work.
The first document, “The Number of Houses and Other Buildings in the Spectacular Capital, Tehran”, is from the year 1852. After a four-line introduction, the document presents a list of “the number of houses”, places of religious rituals (Tikaya), shrines, mosques and shops. In this document, houses have been categorised as belonging to ordinary citizens and servants. Armenian, Turkeman and Jewish populations as well as trades-people are included in the latter category. In describing the city’s neighbourhoods, which include Ark, Oudlajan, the Bazaar, Sangelaj, Chalimeydan and a few other inhabited areas outside the city gates, the list of houses begins with the homes of the Minister in chief, princes, khans and their servants; after listing the homes of religious and other scholars, it continues with the homes of ordinary citizens. However, the structural features and physical placement of the houses are left unaddressed. In its concluding segments, the document notes the total number of places of religious ritual (Tikaya), schools, mosques, artillery centres, warehouses, shrines, doctors’ clinics, weapons warehouses, and unusable urban lands.
The second document is an eight-page text called “Geography of the Resident Population of the Protector Capital”, which was edited by Abdul-Ghafar Mujnem-Bashi in 1869. Four pages of this document are devoted to covering the methods and shortcomings of the statistical approach.
The last document of this book, “Identifying and Recording Buildings in the Areas Near the Trenches around the Spectacular Capital”, is by Akhzar Alishah and dates to 1899. The method of classifying neighbourhoods is the same in the first and second documents. In the third document, however, which dates to the era of Muzaffaredin Shah, the names and order of the neighbourhoods have changed and been labelled as “hangouts”. Generally, this is done in accordance with the names of persons who have the title of “deputy” such as “the hangout of deputy Aziz”. In addition, many transit areas are marked with the label “police” such as the transit area called “Abbas Police”.
Despite the fact that one of the documents is entitled “geography”, none of its pages contains a map of Tehran. At the same time, all three documents provide a sense of the urban space of Tehran during the beginning and middle years of Nassirdin Shah’s reign as well as the beginning of the reign of his son, Muzaffaridin Shah Qajar. As such, the book may be of notable interest to historians and anthropologists, as well as city planning researchers.