The First Modern Bank in Iran
The opening of the first bank in Iran in 1889, was the beginning of the era of modern economy in Tehran.
The first modern bank found in Iran was not an Iranian bank but a branch of that time New Oriental Banking corporation with the headquarter in London. This England based bank, was founded by Baron Julius De Reuter and issued the first paper banknotes in Iran. Until that time silver coins were common and in use. So in 1889, modern banking was started in Tehran.
The new bank also required a good building in the capital, and where could be better than the central square, called Toop Khaneh (artillery barracks) which had several gates to different streets and also to the royal Golestan Plalace and Grand Bazar of Tehran. There was a beautifully decorated in the eastern side of the grand square, with a big balcony and nice pillars. This mansion was built by Mirza Ghahreman Amir Lashkar and opened directly to Toop Khaneh square and was bought as the central building for the Imperial Bank of Persia or as called in Persian Bank-e Shahanshahi.
Only 30 years after the opening of the bank, the original building was demolished to build a new one. The new building which still exists today is a combination of European architectural style and Iranian arch and decorations and is made of bricks.
After the end of World War II, The Imperial Bank renamed to The British Bank of Iran and the Middle East and only three years later, this building was bought by a private Iranian Bank and was called Bazargani meaning commercial. This bank was also merged with some other banks after the 1979 revolution and became Tejarat Bank with the same meaning but under another term.
Toop Khaneh square has gone through different changes through time. It was started being built in 1867 which lasted 10 years. The Police office and Shahanshahi (Imperial) Bank were added later. In the 1930s the City Hall and the Telegraph office were built in the northern and southern sides, respectively. Then the Police office was renovated and reformed, and the new Imperial Bank building constructed. In 1971 the beautiful European style Telegraph building was demolished for building the new tall building for the ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telephone. So going through different stages in such a short time, only one old building has survived from since 100 years ago. The place where the modern economy of Iran started shaping!
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