The Emperor's Bridge Campaign



The Necropolis (and So Much More) of San Francisco

Just two miles from San Francisco's southern city limit is the little town of Colma, Calif.

Colma is best known as the final resting place of generations of San Franciscans, including Emperor Norton, who as part of the "mass eviction" of San Francisco graves that began in 1914 — had his remains moved to Colma (specifically, to Woodlawn Memorial Park) in 1934, from his original burial ground at San Francisco's Masonic Cemetery.

One of the many cemeteries in Colma, Calif. | Photograph by Gabrielle Lurie  © 2015 SF Weekly

But the connection of Colma to the life of San Francisco runs much, much deeper than simply providing real estate for burial plots. SF Weekly reporter Joe Eskenazi was up this past week with a really fine historical-observational piece that fleshes out everything that Colma has done for San Francisco, and why this matters.

Some nice poetry to be teased out from Eskenazi's piece...

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened in November 1936. The great champion and political shepherd of actually getting the bridge designed and built was James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, Jr., the Mayor of San Francisco from 1912 to 1931 and the Governor of California from 1931 until his death in 1934.

It also was "Sunny Jim" who, Eskenazi points out, "signed the legislation leading to the exhumation and removal of nearly every mouldering corpse within San Francisco city limits," laying the groundwork for the re-creation of Colma as San Francisco's necropolis.

Both the Emperor, the Bay Bridge's visionary, and Rolph, the bridge's political foreman, went to Colma in 1934.

Seems fitting.

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