Photographer Janet Delaney has spent decades focusing on the rapid transformation of SoMa, or South of Market, a busy neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, California. As a former industrial hub, the character of this area has changed drastically over the past 40 years. When she started the project in 1978, Delaney could see rapid alterations—new faces, new buildings—already beginning all around her neighborhood. She started taking photographs as a way to record her home in the face of this fundamental transfiguration.
In this video interview, Delaney looks back on the history of SoMa and comments on what she sees as the city’s future. While many longtime residents bemoan the drastic impact that the tech industry has had on affordability, perhaps there is a positive lesson that the city can teach this wave of relative newcomers. As a uniquely accepting and open-minded place, San Francisco might be able to impart the importance of empathy, acceptance and civic support on its new residents. But as Delaney admits, that’s only her frame of mind “on a good day.” Watch for more insights from this insightful urban observer.
Editors’ note: In 2013, Delaney published a book on this series, South of Market, with MACK Books. This work in that series was exhibited in a one-person show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco in 2015. She is now working on Public Matters, her next book of images made in San Francisco circa 1985, to be published in the spring of 2018 by MACK.