When Americans first arrived in Isfahan, the newcomers moved into luxury housing in the middle of town and local landlords earned windfall profits. The boom was short-lived, however, because the community was soon relocated to newly constructed American style subdivisions on the outskirts of the city, the result of sweetheart deals between foreign companies and Iranian entrepreneurs.
The ever-expanding population influx and resultant urban sprawl necessitated infrastructure expansion due to urban increase as well as for bases, airfields, and related industrial facilities.
Large tent cities housed low-wage construction workers from Afghanistan and Pakistan who were rapidly building the extra housing needed to accommodate additional demand.
Thus, Isfahan changed rapidly during this period, evolving from one of the foremost art cities in the world to one of the principal military enclaves in the Third World.
Moreover, the spatial organization of Isfahan did not allow for a distinct division of the foreign and local communities. While the foreigners lived in walled enclaves protected by the shah’s military, school buses, work buses, and minibuses loaded with shoppers were quite visible throughout the older sections of town.
As the revolution took form, the outsiders continued to be an intrusive presence as they went about their daily activities.
Martial law was imposed in Isfahan in August 1978. Most Americans left the city by November, and an estimated $2 billion in military servicing and production contracts scheduled for implementation left with them.