Tehran’s main street reverts to pre-revolutionary name on Google Maps

Tehran’s main street reverts to pre-revolutionary name on Google Maps
Unknown digital actors renamed Tehran's main street back to its pre-revolutionary name. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews December 2, 2022

Tehran’s main thoroughfare,  called Valiasr Street after the 12th Shi'ite Imam following the 1979 Revolution, was temporarily renamed Pahlavi Street after the former shah's family on Google Maps on December 1.

The late-night edit by an unknown actor is the latest tussle in a battle of wills between those who support the current Islamic regime and those who look back to the Pahlavi monarchy, which renamed the street in the early 20th century. Despite its official status, many in Iran continue to call the street and others in the city by the former revolutionary era names as a sign of subtle protest.

Google restricted access to editing maps in 2016 when users around the world began to play tricks, with phallic streets being designed and the Persian Gulf becoming a battleground between Arabs and Iranians. This latest reversion to Pahlavi Street is therefore curious as the change will have come from a regular registered user to the map-editing programme section of the website. The change was quickly reversed on December 2.

Other edits to the Tehran map were also spotted on December 1, with a hotel being renamed Mahsa Amini, the name of the girl who died on September 16 at the hands of Iran’s feared morality police and the spark for protests that have left hundreds dead and put thousands  in jail.

Tehran had several streets renamed after the revolution, one of the most famous being Bobby Sands street which abuts the back of the British Embassy in the capital. Following the death of the Irish Republican hunger striker in the 1980s in Northern Ireland, revolutionary forces in Tehran decided to provoke the British by renaming it in his honour.