As if it’s not enough that the re-building of the Bay Bridge has turned into huge spat fight over money and design another spat is possibly brewing over the most important part of the new & improved span- it’s name. This week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a vote saying that the bridge should be named after semi-legendary San Franciscan Emperor Norton, by an 8-2 margin. The resolution calls for officially changing the name of the bridge from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to the Emperor Joshua Abraham Norton I San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. As the Chron reports, this idea got nothing but the usual what-ever and eye-roll that accompanies any response Oakland gives it’s snooty and smug sister-city. The reaction veered from the probably typical “who is Emperor Norton?” to “just like San Francisco to name something after a crazy lunatic” to the all way-to-sane “why don’t we just build the damn thing first?”.
The idea for naming the bridge after the Emperor came from Farley cartoonist, Phil Frank. Frank held a naming contest in his strip early this year and naming it after the Emperor quickly gained steam. From there, soon-to-be President of the Board of Supervisor, Aaron Peskin, taking a break from his declaring eminent domain over parts of North Beach, introduced the legislation. In order for it to become the new name, first the Gavster has to sign the resolution, and then it needs approval from the Oakland City Council and the California Legislature.
All of which begs the question, who was Emperor Norton?
Photo courtesy of SFGate