The Emperor Championed an Airship Inventor Who Published This Map of San Francisco in 1875
Resurfacing in recent days was an April 2014 SF Curbed item that presents a treasure trove of maps of San Francisco and the Bay Area dating from 1772 to 1961.
One of the earliest of these is a topographical map — titled a "Graphic Chart" — "Revised and Drawn by L.R. Townsend, E. Wyneken & J. Mendenhall, April 1875."
Not mentioned in the Curbed piece — but printed on the map, and of interest to the savvy-eyed Norton observer — is that the map was published that year by Frederick Marriott (1805-1884).
Marriott was the founder and publisher of the San Francisco News Letter (1856-1928), a journal that published some of the earliest writings of Mark Twain, Bret Harte and Ambrose Bierce.
The News Letter also was the sometime self-described "authorized organ of the Aerial Steam Navigation Company," a company that — according to some accounts — Marriott had formed with Andrew Smith Hallidie (1836-1900), a fellow member of the Mechanics' Institute who is known as the "father of the cable car."
At least on paper, the purpose of the Aerial Steam Navigation Company was to raise money for Marriott's efforts to build a large steam-powered "flying machine" capable of ferrying passengers between New York and California.
Marriott's experiments focused on a scale model of this ship, called the Avitor Hermes, Jr. Test flights were conducted near Shell Mound Park — where Broadway in Burlingame, Calif., is today.
In 1869, these experiments — which ultimately foundered — were getting a lot of attention in the press. But the media wasn't translating into money.
So, Emperor Norton took to the papers with a Proclamation:
We, Norton I...being anxious for the future fame and honor of the residents of San Francisco, do hereby command all our good and loyal subjects to furnish the means and exert their best skill and advance money to make Mr. Marriott's aerial machine a success.
Given at San Francisco, Cal., this 25th day of July, A.D. 1869, in the seventeenth year of our reign.
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Six years later, over at the San Francisco News Letter, Mr. Marriott aired a publication of his own — which appears to have been offered as a stand-alone piece.
Click to enlarge. It's beautiful.
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