Another time, another world

Photo essay: Americans touring Iran in 1959

by Paul Schroeder
I believe that the trip we took around Iran was a common itinerary for foreigners in Abadan like ourselves who had one two-week "annual leave" during which to see the rest of the country. There's probably no need to identify each photo. The itinerary and particular views are largely in this order: train to Tehran with views of Qom; Tehran railroad station, Majlis, street scenes, American embassy, bazaar, Darband, Golestan Palace, carpet cleaning at Cheshme-Ali, Rey, railroad to Babol, Babolsar, Ramsar, Rasht, bus to Tehran via Qazvin, Esfahan, Shiraz, Persepolis>>>Full text

Recently by Paul SchroederCommentsDate
RIP: C.R. Schroeder (1911 -2011)
Mar 16, 2012
Abadan Today issues 1958-1960
Apr 20, 2011
Another time, another world
Mar 04, 2009
more from Paul Schroeder

It's amazing that based on

by Anonymous098 (not verified) on

It's amazing that based on a few isolated pictures that you're trying to generalize? To what end, I can only guess...

Visit this thread:

Those who have their family ablums should also post pictures of their families without hejab for Ms. Jackie's examination.

Jackie: do you know how to use google??

Google is your friend. Don't rely on Your friends to educate yourself. Do your own homework without any preconceived notion or biases you might have.


Museum of 'IRI's Reign of Terror'

by Anonymous098 (not verified) on

Khomeini's mausoleum should be turned into a museum for all the victims of IRI. Those who were massacred, tortured, maimed, stoned, craned, raped, cut, etc. A sort of IRI's "reign of terror" museum.



by Siamak Mombaini sherkat nafti (not verified) on

Paul, thank you for these amazing historical pictures. As an ex-Ahwazi now living in North Calif., it brings back lots of memories. I realy enjoyed your pictures from M.I.S. Take care.


was everyone a devout Muslim?

by Jackie (not verified) on

I was told by my friends that Persians are not devout Muslims. I don't see even see one Persian woman who is not wearing the head coverings in these pictures.

Thank You for sharing Paul.

Paul Schroeder

Thanks to all

by Paul Schroeder on

Thanks to all who have shared such positive comments -- I'll share them with my father on his birthday -- and especially to Jahanshah Javid, who has created space for the open dialogue that's what The Iranian is all about.

To see the images displayed as thumbnails all on one page (including a couple that didn't make it into The Iranian), arranged more or less in the order of the trip, please check Iran, 1959 -- 132 Views. If you'd like to see previous postings in this series, links are at the beginning of the text for this photo essay.

I'm sure I'll get a chance to visit Iran again. I've become an enthusiast of stereo (3-D) photography, a popular 50s technology, and I'm looking forward to taking stereo photos there, no doubt of some of the scenes presented here, as well as Abadan.

The category "Nostalgia" has felt a little uncomfortable to me, as it aims mostly in one direction, toward the past. My primary orientation is to the present and the future, as sustained by experience of the past. I looked the word up, and found that it's based on the Greek "nostos"
which means "to return home." Adding the "-algia" makes it a disease, homesickness. I think it's a form of social disease in our world that so many people are forced to live far from their true homes.

I'd like to encourage people to put notes and labels at Wikimapia. Search Abadan (or wherever)
and try to bridge some of the distances through this form of online connection.

Anyone who'd like to get in touch directly can email me at Paul Schroeder. Thanks again to all.


Unbreathed Air... ........I

by Pamela (not verified) on

Unbreathed Air...

........I am a historian of modern Iranian art and architecture. These photos are amazing. I have been to many many archives(both in Iran and the US), never saw anything like this. I may have to include some of your photos in my future publications (in that case I'll contact you for copyright, etc). Do you happen to have more photos of homes and everyday life in Abadan?

Thanks again for sharing this amazing collection, this unbreathed air with us!



XerXes (not verified)

Let's agree that Shah had planned all this. Firstly, his father and him could have done much more in the time they were in power. I am not sure what kind of education plans Shah had for the people, but the people were not getting educated. They were some programs, but not aggressive enough.
With all that, that I don't know for a fact, even if Shah did have all these plans, the plans are being done regardless. So that's good anyways. The level of difference is unbelievable. People forget that Iran is a huge country with thousands of villages and AbAdis, and to school the entire population, give the energy resources, drinking water, roads and access to the market is not that simple. All this with eight year of wars, which actually give Iran 22 years, and Sanctions which I am not counting.
Also remember that most of these plans were done for some country to feel sorry for us, get our money and do it for us. Now we export our technologies. I am impressed with Iran's achievements. If you are not, nothing I can do.
I am not saying Iran is the greatest country on earth, I am saying Iran is on her way to be the greatest country on God's green earth.


XerXes jan

by پیام on

Most of the infrastructural advancments of today's Iran were planned by Shah and his staff way long ago as a part of his modernisation program ( like our nuclear facilities etc.). You honestly cannot be real believing that the current incompetent government was respnsible for the planning of these projects!



by jamh on


To add a few words to what was said, here is the price extracted for "progress", absence of polution vs ease of transportation, low population vs crime, money vs worry and peace vs war.  I do remember those clear blue skies, and nights spent on balconies listening to stories under mosquito screens. These photographs capture the smell, the taste and the aura of that year.

A time will come when nothing will be more precious than clean water, clean air, and, space.


Azarin, thank you for your own amazing picture as well!

by gol-dust on

God bless!


With all due respect

by XerXes (not verified) on

Iran looks almost as good as Kabol. After Shah, besides a few streets, Iran was dusty, rusty, poor and just ugly (from city not nature). I remember that in the 70's when we traveled to south, and back to north east, there was nothing, no drinking water, electricity, food, NOTHING. When I tell my cousins who were born after the revolution, they don't believe me. It's unbelievable the transformation of the country. Don't forget that all this was build by the Iranians. As Dr. Ahmadinejad has written many places in Iran, and many projects: We can, we could, we did.
I urge the American friends who have seen those days to go back today and see the Islamic Republic of Iran. Judge for themselves. That's just the infrastructure, not talking about education, technology, etc etc. ALL HOME GROWN thanks to sanctions.
Only khodforukhtehaa that don't even care to visit their own country don't see that (On average those either have not been to Iran, or have not returned more than 25 years), others know what I am talking about.


It Can Be Done: Where there's a Will, there's a way

by Danesh, Ph.D. (not verified) on

Since with advances of technology we know everything about persopolis in terms of interior and exterior design in its so so so details, I believe perspolis can be rebuilt in exact grandeousity and majestic duplicate right from the scratch in the vacinity of the ruins.

Of course once the structure is complete we will wait for alexander to come and burn it again even if the waiting takes the time of eternity--

--build it they will come--

--modern man needs to relearn to imagine again the old fashion way! To earn it--


Enigmatic Visuals, considering present Iran

by deepMagenta on

Well, when you came to Tehran, I was about a year old having a good time in my diapers.

I have some photos of my father’s old paintings of old Iran. Let me know if you wish to see them.


Say Salaam to your folks on my behalf.

Azarin Sadegh

Amazing pictures!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Thank you so much Paul, for sharing these amazing pictures with us! One of the best photo albums on!

It took me back to those years when I wasn't yet born, ...almost like magic!

Thanks! Azarin



by hamidbak on

Wonderful pics and thank you for sharing them.  Most of us, readers of this site, were not even alive in '59, so it is more than neat to see what Iran looked like fifty years ago.

You saw more than most of us have seen.


Stop the Embargo

by Fido (not verified) on

Cars similar to those shown in photos of Iran in 50 years ago are still roaming in streets of Havana. Maybe it`s time now to stop the US embargo on Cuba.


Thank you Paul, for this

by Mehrnaz (not verified) on

Thank you Paul, for this beautiful photographs. The landscape is wonderful, so clean and the photography itself is very artful. I agree with John that there were not many people present but also Iran was much much less populated at that time! I also noticed the absence of traffic. Empty streets, one or two cars, wow ... Local dresses of women too are so lovely. Someone mentions this and I agree that it took me too back to the Iran of my childhood in some respects, mainly the absence of traffic which makes such an assault on any environment.


Happy Birthday to Charles Schroeder

by Shahriar on

Paul, your birthday present to your Dad, has been a great present to all Iranians. Thank you!


simpler times

by MRX1 on

Those were simpler times and in some ways may better times. population of Iran must have been around 15 to 20 million with majority residing in villages. cities were not crowded, air was clean, traffic non existance, environment less damaged. now all is a distant memory.......



by Spaceman on

Thanks for sharing these photos with us, they are amazing.

Iranian Reader

Magical time, magical world

by Iranian Reader on

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is the Iran of my childhood. No wonder we can't get over what has happened!



Most revealing pictures

by Hamed Haeri (not verified) on

I could not hold myself but to notice no polution and crowd in those time. Something that now has made living in Tehran and Iran dreadful.
Many thanks to Paul Scroder for each and everyone of these streets and cars and people and cities and buses and views, everything. I enjoyed them immensely.



by Anonymouser (not verified) on

Thanks for taking the time to take these pictures, keeping them all these years, scanning, posting & captioning them. Lots & lots of people will be delighted to see them.


To: D. Kadivar

by Planning Department (not verified) on

No worries, the architecural review board is planning to do the same with Khomeini's mosauleum, as soon as the next civil riots takes place, or when the British get out of Iran.


very nice

by Reza Khaneh Mir Five (not verified) on

thanks for taking the time to post these treasures of the past. The family look very nice and the era that fashionable ladies dressed like Dorris Day. Thank you


Thank you paul

by shirazie (not verified) on

picture 121 was interesting. thank you for sharing

Half of the steps ended up in European museum under watch full eyes of King of Kings

Thank you Sir...

by on

 Really appreciate all the hardwork in scanning these photographs. 

Thank you so much for helping iranians (or in my case half iranian)  save some of the nice parts of Iran's history.  This amidst all the trash we have to put up thanks to the criminal Ayatollahs. I hope Iran's brain washed kids see these images.





Date of last picture

by ProudToBeAnonymous (not verified) on

The date shown on the newspaper in the last picture is: chahar shanbeh, hefdahomeh ordibeheshteh 1384.


Darius Kadivar

by Dayweed (not verified) on

They not only destroyed Reza Shah's mosaleum they turned it into a public restroom! First it was a small Iranian style toilet/port-a-jon then it became a full blown public rest room.

The last picture says this story was published in an Abadani newspaper but didn't give the date? It appears it is from IRI era but no date.


Revealing pictures!

by پیام on

Ordinary life is well captured in your photographs. Though nostalgic, I noticed the poor state of Iran. All the credit to MohammadReza Pahlavi and his effort to continue his father's work to build Iran into the twentiest century. If only he had the chance to finish it ....