The Emperor's Bridge Campaign



Filtering by Tag: David Warren Ryder

Campaign Discovers Newspaper Record of Emperor Norton’s Famous Stand-Off with an Anti-Chinese Crowd

One of the most popular stories about Emperor Norton has the Emperor dispersing an anti-Chinese riot by standing before a racist mob and saying the Lord’s Prayer over and over. But, there never has been a date or documentation for this incident.

The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign has discovered what we believe to be the first document that stands to lift key elements of this story out of the realm of legend and into the realm of history. We share it here.

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OPEN QUESTION No. 4: Was the Christmas Tree in Union Square, San Francisco, Really Emperor Norton’s Idea?

The short answer is: It seems not.

But, the question invites a deep dive into the history of Christmas trees and Christmas decorations, more broadly, in San Francisco’s Union Square.

Pull up a chair for the long answer. It’s a fascinating and occasionally surprising story that includes some wonderful rarely seen archival photographs of Christmas in Union Square over the last century.

Bonus: Research for this article produced dates (years) for three photographs of Christmas trees in Union Square that previously either were incorrectly or imprecisely dated or were undated.

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Two Traces of Allen Stanley Lane

For nearly 50 years, Allen Stanley Lane's 1939 biography of Emperor Norton was recognized as the standard reference on the subject. But, as often as Lane is cited in Norton studies and within "the Norton community" more generally, it appears that there is no online record of Lane — apart from references to the fact that he wrote his book.

There appears to be no mention of Lane's personal life — or of anything else he might have written or produced about Emperor Norton.

So it's been gratifying, over the last couple weeks, to have been "gifted" with a couple more documentary signs of Lane's existence.

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On the Trail of the Elusive "Frisco" Proclamation

No proclamation attributed to Emperor Norton more often is actually quoted than the one in which he is said to have railed against the word "Frisco." But did the Emperor actually write this? As it turns out, the source of the "Frisco" proclamation is far from clear. In this wide-ranging, link-packed essay, we detail our quest for the origins of the decree and find that all roads may lead to 1939.

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