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An Illustrated History of Emperor Norton's Commercial Street

  • Gather at the southwest corner of Kearny & Commercial Streets San Francisco, CA United States (map)

The Street Where He Lived:
An Illustrated History of Emperor Norton's Commercial Street

part of the Field Talk series by The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign
Sunday, March 22, 4:00-5:00PM
Gather at the southwest corner of Kearny & Commercial Streets,
San Francisco

sliding scale donation of $5-$10 is requested.
No one will be turned away.

What do you call a single-site exploration that's a cross between a field trip and an historical walking tour? We're calling it a Field Talk.

Join The Emperor's Bridge Campaign as we kick off this occasional series with a visit to the block of Commercial Street, between Montgomery and Kearny Streets, in San Francisco, where Emperor Norton lived from 1863 until he died in 1880.

After a brief introduction at Kearny and Commercial, we'll move to the sidewalk across from Empire Park, at 648 Commercial (between Kearny and Montgomery).

The talk starts at 4:00PM sharp. Please be prompt.

We'll look at the general evolution of the block and its neighborhood from the Emperor's time until today.

We'll do a "close read" of the history of the site where the Emperor slept - from the site's days as host to the Eureka Lodgings, the imperial residence from 1863 to 1880; to its brief stint as home one of the country's preeminent fine printing presses; to its presentation incarnation as the privately owned Empire Park.

We also will explore the relationship of the Eureka site to its next-door neighbors - on one side, the site of another boarding house, where Emperor Norton read his morning papers; on the other; the site of the Morning Call newspaper, where Samuel Clemens, soon to be better known as Mark Twain, had a desk in the summer of 1864.

Afterward, we'll adjourn for liquid refreshments and a nibble - possibly to Comstock Saloon, a few blocks away, where a statue of the Emperor with a terrific story of its own presides over the bar.

This Field Talk will include a handout of archival photographs and drawings of a selection of the sites and buildings we'll be discussing.