Janet Delaney – South of Market
South of Market is a photographic portrait of a San Francisco neighbourhood in the throes of urban renewal.
In 1978, Janet Delaney moved to San Francisco’s South of Market district because the location was central and the rent was cheap. On the weekends she photographed with her large format camera at the nearby construction site for what is now the Moscone Convention Centre. After witnessing the nighttime demolition of an adjacent residential hotel, Delaney became interested in the rippling economic effects urban renewal was having on poor and working class residents. Leaving the construction site behind, Delaney joined local efforts to protest the city’s treatment of the community and began to photograph and interview her neighbors in their homes and places of work.
South of Market is not a romantic representation of San Francisco’s past, but rather a testament to a vanished community made up of blue-collar workers, small business owners, families with children, artists, and gay men. The work is especially relevant today, as a new wave of gentrification brought on by the second internet boom is again driving less affluent residents out of San Francisco. “As I continue to photograph in San Francisco and in urban areas around the world,” says Delaney, “I see that who plays and who pays remains, as it always was, the central issue.”
The photographs are accompanied by interviews which offer personal responses to the impact of gentrification on twelve of Delaney’s neighbours. An essay by Erin O’Toole sets the context for this story by providing a history of this constantly evolving San Francisco neighbourhood.