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After a series of business reverses that led to his bankruptcy in August 1856, Joshua Norton on September 17, 1859, publicly declared himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States” — a few years later adding the title “Protector of Mexico.”

Over the course of 20 years, Emperor Norton — as he was less formally known — distinguished himself as an early champion of the values of fairness, tolerance, self-determination, and the common good that are so strongly associated with his adopted city.

In so doing, he became — and remains to this day — one of San Francisco’s favorite folk heroes.

Earlier this year, in April, the City and County of San Francisco added “EMPEROR NORTON PLACE” as a commemorative name for the 600 block of Commercial — and shortly afterward placed an “Emperor Norton Place” street sign at the northwest corner of Montgomery and Commercial Streets.

The public is invited to celebrate this milestone on Sunday, September 17th from 1PM – 4PM on the Northwest corner of Montgomery and Commercial Streets.

Other events during the afternoon include a special Sunday opening of the San Francisco Historical Society Museum, at 608 Commercial Street, with:

+ Exhibit of original Norton ephemera — cabinet card photographs; Norton “bonds” signed by the Emperor; etc.
+ Fun educational Norton-focused activities for kids
+ Historical plaque scavenger hunt
+ Museum tours

View the public invite on Facebook

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