South of Market: 1978-1986

[amazon template=image&asin=1907946381]I am rarely attracted to photography books after having suffered a surfeit of them during my six year tenure at Blurb. But this one appeared on my radar some months ago (when living in South of Market), and the library finally coughed up a copy today. Delaney moved into the transitional neighborhood when construction on the blight that is the Moscone Center had begun, a monstrous convention center, the Javits of the West. Pushed out of the blocks were older unmarried gentlemen living in residential hotels, hundreds of Filipinos, artists and gays that “snuck in” to the neighborhood (according to longtime resident Bobby Washington). The pictures are gorgeous, large format photos awash in color. The subjects have all but vanished, no more quaint coffee shop at the Budget Hotel, torn down schools, demolished blocks that are now rising with glass towers. Occasionally you’ll come across a familiar sight– like the “Flag Makers” sign on Natoma at 3rd street that was recently uncovered during the SFMOMA construction (where there used to be a Chevron-friendly King Garage). I love the photo of the bar at the SF Tennis Club– I had no idea the joint was so civilized back in the 80s. Besides the terrific photos, a dozen pages of interviews and explainer text snuggle into the back.

I think that San Francisco is the only place that I have felt is my home. I think it is a magical city, it is a city where I can realize my dreams and become more and more the person I want to be. I think the whole purpose of San Francisco is to become the magical person that you thought you were when you were five years old. — Lynn Forrest

The transformation is even more total in the central part of South of Market, where once vacant lots are filled with luxury hotels, museums, public parks and shopping centers. Young tech workers, international tourists and conventioneers have replaced working class families and the elderly poor. — Erin O’Toole