We will often engage in Emperor Norton obsession around these parts, honoring the memory of the delightfully delusional Gold Rush-era kook who declared himself ‘Emperor’ of the United States and Mexico, printed his own bogus currency that was honored about town in the 1870s, and made repeated “proclamations,” the most famous of which is his (probably apocryphal) decree that we not refer to The City as “Frisco.” The Emperor continues to bubble back into our collective consciousness from time to time, mainly through the occasional effort to rename the Bay Bridge in his honor, visits to the Tenderloin bar that bears his name, and the weekly walking tours celebrating his life and guided by a spot-on impersonator. But a new online project bows again to the Emperor’s legacy, as Atlas Obscura points out a new interactive Google Map that details the points of interest of Emperor Norton’s life.
It’s called the Emperor Norton Map of the World, and despite the limited Bay Area range of the above embed it really does cover the world. There are details about Emperor Joshua Norton I’s birthplace in England and his early adulthood in Capetown, South Africa. (If you’re a fan you really should read the locations’ write-ups, which are quite lengthy and detailed, but are only available if you click the map to fullscreen mode.)
Nearly half of the San Francisco locations are residential hotels at which the Emperor bounced around during his pauper days, but still have quite meticulous details.
The really fascinating discoveries here are the orange stars (again, you need to go fullscreen for the experience) which show depictions of Emperor Norton in public art around San Francisco. Everybody knows about the painting at Tommy’s Joynt and the relics at Emperor Norton’s Boozeland, but there are also Emperor Norton-themed artworks at unexpected locations like the Parc 55 Hilton and Cockscomb Restaurant, with photographic and historical detail represented.
The map is a project of the Emperor's Bridge Campaign, the nonprofit that
still refuses to accept the notion of a Willie L. Brown Bridge, hopes to add Emperor Norton's name to the Bay Bridge and whose blog still regularly features new historical finds about the Emperor.
NOTE: An earlier version of this article stated that Emperor's Bridge Campaign hoped to rename the Willie L Brown, Jr. western span of the Bay Bridge for Emperor Norton. The campaign is an effort to rename the entire bridge.