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 Identity of a City: the Case of Tehran'". Translated by Taraneh Dadar. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 51. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
بهزادفر، مصطفی. هویت شهر: نگاهی به هویت شهر تهران. تهران: نشر شهر، ٢٠٠۷، ٣٢۵ص
Published by the Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs of Tehran’s municipality, this book explores the several elements that express the identity of the city of Tehran.
The work comprises five chapters of which the first four provide the theoretical framework, whilst the fifth consists of a case-study of the identity of Tehran.
The general definitions of identity are provided before the notion of identity in relation to the city is discussed. The book examines the crisis in the city’s identity as its traditional structure underwent changes to accommodate Modernity.
Based on archival material, field observation and interviews, the author has determined three categories to establish the identity of a city. These are natural, man-made and human environments all of which are considered to play a role in the constitution of Tehran’s identity.
The final chapter is organised around the three categories mentioned above. It gives a fairly comprehensive introduction to the geographical location of Tehran, its natural resources and structure as well as man-made elements such as different neighbourhoods, monuments, holy sites, cultural centres. Towards the end, an anthropological study of Tehran is presented taking into consideration race, language, religion and customs.
Written in a plain language, the book is a good reference both for scholars and for people who require general knowledge about the city of Tehran. The final chapter may be slightly incomplete as it does not refer much to the contemporary (post-revolution) developments of the city. But the book is valuable as it generates discussion on city identity in Iran.