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Atlas Obscura
The Emperor's City
Tuesday, January 8
A live lecture on the life of The Emperor! Join us for an evening tribute to our city's most beloved eccentric, Emperor Norton I of the United States.
"...On the reeking pavement, in the darkness of a moonless night under the dripping rain, and surrounded by a hastily gathered crowd of wondering strangers, Norton I, by the grace of God, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life." -- Obituary for Emperor Norton I, San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 1880

It is said that 30,000 citizens of this fine city came out to pay their respects that January in 1880, and we will be doing the same.

Join us on this, the 132nd anniversary of the death of Joshua Norton, Gold Rush era San Francisco's most beloved riches-to-rags story, eccentric man-about-town, and self-declared Emperor of the United States (and protector of Mexico) for stories of a city of dirt streets and big dreams, and the possibly the biggest dreamer of them all.

Bedecked in imperial whiskers, donated epaulets and a very fancy hat, Norton issued proclamations which were published in local newspapers ordering the dissolution of Congress, the building of a bridge to Oakland, and occasionally requesting new royal outfits. His colorful life inspired writers from Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain to Neil Gaiman and the Principia Discordia.

Don your finest Victorian hobo royal finery and join us as we raise a glass or three of pisco punch and explore the city that surrounded Norton's rise to fame and the birth of our fine city from shipwrecks and wishful thinking to the gilded metropolis that paid its respects at the death of the Emperor.