“The Craziest City In the World”
Claimed 1951 Article on Iran’s Capital, Tehran

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | June 9, 2017                    


Iran was definitely on people’s minds when the following wire article by the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA) was published.

On that day, British oil workers, expelled from Abadan as a result of the government’s dispute with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, were shipped home to England. Five days later, Premier Mossadegh arrived in America to defend the oil nationalization law at the United Nations.

In its factually loose, mondo bizarro presentation, the article depicted Tehran as a wild urban paradox. Perhaps the implication was that Iranians themselves were as bewildering as their most populous city appeared to be. See what you make of it.

October 3, 1951

‘Craziest City’ Label Pinned On Teheran 1,000,000 People Lack House Numbers, Public Water Supply


TEHERAN, Oct, 3 (NANA)— Had the Iranian oil talks never been held, Teheran still would be the craziest city in the world. It is the place where nearly 1,000,000 people are living, but where there are no numbers on the houses. [The Premier’s home address was 109 Kakh Ave.]

It is a very thirsty place, yet there is no public water supply. Most of the people wash in the water that runs down from the mountains in broad, open gutters. [storm drains known as joobs]

The British Embassy, which has one of the few pure wells in the city, coins money by selling fresh drinking water in cans.

The pavements in some streets are so narrow that they will not take a loaded donkey; others are so broad that the shopkeepers grow vegetables on them by digging up a little space under the shade of the plane trees lining the roadside.

Shah Has Rolls Royce

Teheran is the place where the British Embassy is guarded by Indians, and the Russian Embassy by German police dogs. It is the city where it is quicker to run 2 miles to see a governmental official than it is to telephone him.

It is the city where the English are attacked in the newspapers almost every day as “bloodsuckers,” but are treated personally as if they were old friends; and the Shah goes around in a Rolls Royce.

Teheran is a sunny place where it is unfashionable for the girls to show tan. It is a place where you never see any Persian cats of the fur kind. All the animals that wail on the roof are short-coated, like London tabbies.

Beer Costs $1.25

In Teheran, one favorite drink is sour milk, mixed with soda water. [doogh, a yogurt drink] A bottle of Dutch beer costs $1.25.

The Shah has no son, and has appointed no successor. [He was newly married to his 2nd wife, Soraya, and had a daughter] The prime minister is six years over the age limit fixed under the constitution. [Mossadegh was 68 when he took office, of legal age] The cabinet members contradict each other perpetually — and themselves frequently.

In Tehran, the Moslem shops shut on Saturday, the Jewish on Saturday, and the Christian on Sunday. [Muslim businesses close on Friday for prayer] To read the shop signs, you must read Russian and Armenian, as well as Persian. [Russian?? The Armenian community was not ubiquitous] The shopkeepers add up with bead machines. [Abacus]

Lay Carpets On Street

They lay their finest new carpets down across the pavement, so that people will walk over them and take some newness out.

The Government controls the wine industry—and spells Chablis Chablie on its wine labels. In Teheran they hold public executions outside the main telegraph office.

They have only three weeks each month, but even that does not help the time pass quickly, for in their calendar there are 10 days to every week. [Completely false!]

No wonder they take to smoking opium. [What was the author smoking?]

Iranian Transgender Teen: Farideh > Farhad Najafi (1953)
Iranian Transgender Teen: Farideh > Farhad Najafi (1953)

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Related links:

The Streets of Teheran by Stella K. Margold: November 10, 1953

British Writer Alletson Cook Applauds “Traitor” Hossein Fatemi’s Execution (1954)

Rubaiyat Revised | Candid Comment | Sunday Herald (1951)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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