From Alexander Nazaryan’s story for Newsweek:
In 1978, Janet Delaney had just returned to San Francisco from Central America, where many countries were in the midst of armed conflict. But while her journey through war zones proved safe, coming back to the city she had lived in for years did not. As she was snapping away beneath the Bay Bridge, Delaney was mugged at knifepoint, her camera taken from her. While the experience might rattle any urban explorer, it did not keep Delaney from photographing a city on the cusp of tremendous change. Delaney kept taking pictures, not only in San Francisco but also in New York City, where she frequently traveled in the 1980s.
The result is a photographic oeuvre that captures two of America’s most significant cities emerging from the postwar white-flight years, on their way to becoming the international megalopolises they are today. A single construction worker stands in the cavernous, half-built interior of the Moscone Center, named for San Francisco’s slain mayor; a not-especially threatening policeman in owlish glasses rests against a fire hydrant in the lower Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo. For the most part, Delaney’s photographs show only one or two people, usually at work, usually with their hands. A tricky hybrid of portrait and landscape, they capture the paradox that wafts through every stalled subway train, that flits across the face of everyone who pretends not to notice the beggar on the corner.
While the city is huge, the people within it are small. Instead of cowering from this fact, Delaney celebrates it.