Back then, the majority of the population was rural, with 64,000 villages. Only in 2008 did the urban population exceed 50%. Many people were quite poor while stories of the ‘one thousand families’ who were rich and powerful circulated widely.
Religion was still important for many and mosques were places of rest, quiet and sociability as well as spiritual uplift.
Even Tehran was village-like, nestled against the Alborz mountaints. Now it is a highly built-up conurbation.