In 1859 Joshua Norton, a ruined but formerly successful businessman, returned to San Francisco after a two year absence and declared himself the Emperor Norton the First of the United States. He became a well-known and liked local eccentric and was saluted by local police officers, allowed free passage on public transportation, and free seats at the theater.
For some time, the Emperor’s Bridge Campaign has been at the center of a movement to name the Bay Bridge after Norton, since he decreed the construction of such a bridge many years before it was built. Now, some Emperor Norton enthusiasts have decided his bizarre story warrants a feature length documentary and are raising funds to produce it.
Tonight, they will gather at the 20 Mission co-op space for an extravaganza closing the fundraising campaign and celebrating the life and times of the historic figure.
The party begins at 7 p.m. and will feature drinks, music, photo booths with period costumes, and plenty of enthusiasm for San Francisco’s Emperor.