Continued efforts to acknowledge Emperor Norton's bridge


Check out a video I shot driving across the Emperor Norton I bridge on the first day it was open to the public:

Willie Brown bridge is a terrible name for it. Emperor Norton I would be a much better name!


I support naming it the Emperor Norton, both because it more properly suits the nonconformism San Franciscans are known for, and also because I find the modern trend of names public structures after living persons to be in very poor taste.


I thought that he also tacked on “King of the Jews” to his name…
Google is failing me, so perhaps I got that from the Principia Discordia or a RAW book?

On the other hand, with the official name, we can all talk about San Fran’s giant willie.


Check out the wonderful Sandman story (by Neil Gaiman) about Emperor Norton to learn more about him.


Important distinction: It’s only the western span of the Bay Bridge named for Willie Brown, not the new structure that connects Treasure Island to Oakland.

The eastern span isn’t even in San Francisco, so it wouldn’t really be fair to Oaklanders to name both structures after famous San Franciscans.

[Edit to fix embarrassing misattribution]

1 Like

Emperor Norton of these United States


Fair point.

His dad founded Judaism in South Africa after leaving England, but the Emp believed he was secretly adopted and not Jewish at all, but instead hidden away bastard Bourbon royalty after the French deposed all the Bourbons of the time. This belief is what eventually led him to believe he should be an Emperor, of the US if France wouldn’t have him. But due to this quirk I doubt he ever proclaimed himself “King of the Jews”. From what I’ve read he very pointedly rejected Judaism in his youth and stuck to that his whole life.


Building on last fall’s 4,600-signature petition, a new group — The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign — is laying the groundwork to incorporate as a 501©(4) nonprofit to carry forward the effort to name the entire Bay Bridge for Emperor Norton.

This is not in competition with the recent subtitling of the bridge’s Western section. The two can exist in tandem.

1 Like

Likewise! I thought this was something only dictatorships did.

[sf weekly rant]
Damnit, SF Weekly

In addition, Norton is best-known for his many decrees about bridges and tunnels that he had hoped to build, connecting San Francisco and Oakland.

Really, “best-known”?

The fact that sentence began with “In addition” means something else, earlier in the article, was a better introduction.
[/ sf weekly rant]

On the matter of the bridge it seems clear that Norton has become an icon for the city who’s most notable monuments consist of a tourist trap “museum” and a dive bar with a decent pool table. We can probably do better than that, bridge or not.

After all, he was a weirdo vagabond with +5 to charisma.

Collected in Fables and Recollections for those interested.

The Emperor often spent a few months of every spring and summer in Oakland — which he considered his “summer capital.”

1 Like

Willie Brown glared at me once, so yeah, Emperor Norton Bridge it should be!

I’m no fan of Willie Brown but come on! What, they all look alike to you?

1 Like


Ouch! That’s exactly the kind of faux-pas that’s been ruining my odds of being invited to speak at DNC fundraisers and MLB conferences.

I obviously meant to type “…named after Steamboat Willie” (pictured).

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.