The Emperor's Bridge Campaign



Filtering by Tag: photographs

The Eastern Approach to the Imperial Palace

Two newly discovered photographs show new glimpses of the eastern end of the block of Commercial Street where Emperor Norton lived — as it was just after he moved there. The photos are from 1865 and 1866. The Emperor had moved to the block in late 1862 or early 1863. Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain worked on this block — next door to the palace, in fact — in the summer of 1864.

These views would have been very familiar to both gentlemen.

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To celebrate the advent of the bike craze in San Francisco, as memorialized by Eadweard Muybridge's iconic 1869 photograph of Emperor Norton on a bone-shaker, The Emperor's Bridge Campaign is delighted to be partnering with SF Tweed and San Francisco Steampunks to present a May Day bike ride ending with a picnic at Marina Green. Our friends from the Mechanics' Institute also will be joining us. Details on the flip!

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No. 2234

Emperor Norton was a favorite subject of a number of celebrity portrait photography studios that came to prominence in San Francisco during his reign. The Emperor is most closely associated with the studio of Bradley & Rulofson; and he was included in the studio's Celebrity Catalogue, which clients used to order prints of photographs produced by the studio. The Catalogue was a kind of index of the social stratification of the day — and offers a window into the Emperor's place in the social structure.

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Emperor Norton in Profile, c.1878

For all the hundreds of times that we've done a Google image search on "Emperor Norton" here at The Emperor's Bridge Campaign, the Internet still has gifts and surprises for us. Yesterday, it was the following image of a "cabinet card" of the Emperor dated c.1878 and credited to the studio of Bradley & Rulofson, which took many of the most famous photographs of Emperor Norton. We'd never seen this one.

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In the Emperor's Study

Early last month, we ran Eadweard Muybridge's wonderful exterior photograph of the 1866 building of the Mechanics' Institute, where Emperor Norton spent many afternoons, wrote many proclamations and played many games of chess. But the more elusive prize has been a photograph(s) of the building's interior — of the physical spaces that Emperor Norton himself inhabited on all those afternoons, so many years ago.

Happily, we now can close this gap.

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The Proclamatorium of Post Street

Emperor Norton wrote many — possibly even most — of his Proclamations during his regular afternoon visits to the Mechanics' Institute at 31 Post Street, where he also is said to have played a fine game of chess. Here's a look at how the Institute featured in the Emperor's daily life, illustrated by a couple of photographs of the building — including a wonderful shot by the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), who also took the famous 1869 photo of the Emperor astride a bicycle.

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James Kenneth Piggott, Early Photographer of the Emperor's Bridge

Some of the earliest photographs of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge were taken in 1936 by James Kenneth Piggott, a commercial photographer who made his living, in part, as a printer and publisher of postcards. More on Piggott — including an intriguing biographical overlap with Emperor Norton — plus three of his 1936 bridge photographs, after the jump.

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