The Emperor's Bridge Campaign

TO HONOR THE LIFE + ADVANCE THE LEGACY OF EMPEROR NORTON

RESEARCH • EDUCATION • ADVOCACY

Filtering by Tag: Society of California Pioneers

Chief Crowley Releases a Sword

On 16 February 1880 — a little more than a month after Emperor Norton’s death on 8 January — the San Francisco Board of Supervisors conveyed the Emperor’s main personal effects to the Society of California Pioneers.

San Francisco Police Chief Patrick Crowley, who famously had released the Emperor from jail in January 1867 — the morning after an overzealous member of the police auxiliary had falsely arrested the Emperor on bogus charges of vagrancy and lunacy — had one more item to add to the Pioneers’ new collection of Imperial artifacts.

The Police Department had been holding on to it for 15 years.

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What Ever Happened to the Plaque of '59?

In 1959, "the Society of California Pioneers in cooperation with the San Francisco Chronicle" proposed an Emperor Norton memorial plaque at the intersection of California Street and Grant Avenue — where the Emperor collapsed and died on 8 January 1880. A design for the plaque was created by Hubert Buel, the Chronicle's art director. Indeed, the design and text for the plaque were approved by resolution of the San Francisco Arts Commission on 1 June 1959.

And yet, today, there is no Emperor Norton plaque at California and Grant. In fact, it appears that the project never made it before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors — which typically would have to have given final approval for a project like this in order for it to move forward.

How did an Emperor Norton plaque with the collaborative backing of two storied institutions like the Society of California Pioneers and the San Francisco Chronicle get pushed off the tracks — and who did the job? 

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