San Francisco to Name Street After Emperor Norton
On Sunday, September 17th, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. there will be a celebration honoring the official naming of Emperor Norton Place. It’s all going down at the Northwest corner of Montgomery and Commercial Streets.
For those who don’t know, Emperor Norton was the original SF weirdo. He paved the way for the rest of us to let our freak flags fly. As the press release so succinctly explains:
Emperor Norton’s remarkable journey began in 1849 when he arrived in San Francisco as an English Jew seeking fortune. He established himself as a successful merchant and investor in commodities and real estate but faced financial setbacks leading to bankruptcy in August 1856. On September 17, 1859, Norton declared himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States,” later adding the title “Protector of Mexico.”
Over two decades, Emperor Norton became a beloved champion of fairness, tolerance, self-determination, and the common good—values deeply associated with San Francisco. He remains a cherished folk hero of the city.
Earlier this year, the City and County of San Francisco honored Emperor Norton’s memory by designating the 600 block of Commercial as “EMPEROR NORTON PLACE” and installing an “Emperor Norton Place” commemorative street sign at the southwest corner of Montgomery and Commercial Streets. This spot was chosen because Norton resided in the Eureka Lodgings at 624 Commercial Street from 1865 until his passing in January 1880. Although the building was lost in the earthquake and fires of April 1906, the site now hosts a 4-story building at 650/652/654 Commercial Street, adjacent to the serene Empire Park.
Ok, actually most of that was from the press release. But did you know that Emperor Norton was also one of San Francisco’s first antiracist activists? Pretty interesting guy all around.
The event will have a lot of fun things going on including:
● Music performed by the Freedom Marching Band
● Art activities for kids
● Colorful figures from history, including the Emperor himself dressed in full regalia
● A scavenger hunt for historical plaques, with prizes
● Free tours of the SF Historical Society
Individuals from the following organizations and projects contributed to planning for this event:
● Office of San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin
● Emperor Norton Legacy League
● The Emperor Norton Trust
● San Francisco Historical Society
● The Ancient & Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, Yerba Buena Lodge Number One
Howdy! My name is Katy Atchison and I'm an Associate Editor for Broke-Ass Stuart.
I want to take the time to say thank you for supporting independent news media by reading BrokeAssstuart.com. Supporting independent news sources like Broke-Ass Stuart is vital to supporting our community because it amplifies the voices of a wide variety of diverse opinions. You also help support small businesses and local artists by sharing stories from Broke-Ass Stuart.
Because you're one of our supporters, I wanted to send over a pro-tip.
Our bi-weekly newsletter is a great way to get round ups of Broke-Ass Stuart stories, learn about new businesses in The Bay Area, find out about fun local events and be first in line for giveaways.