Campaign for Norton-1
(a.k.a. Bridge Work)


UPDATE: The campaign is over. Consider this a historic record rather than an ongoing cause. The new span has so many faults, it's just as well His Highness did NOT become its namesake.

Oakland Bay Bridge  ~vs.~  Fancy script: Emperor Norton Bridge

The current name tells it all: a bridge over San Francisco Bay, err... Oakland? Whichever.

Our proposed name says what?
History if one knows it, otherwise...
Otherwise it prompts, "Emperor Norton?  Who's that?  Emperor of what?  Why'd they name this bridge after Him?  Is He still alive?  Where'd He live?  When?..."
In other words, history!

Changing the bridge's name invites even the marginally curious to meet a fascinating hodgepodge of Californian events and characters. Joshua Abraham Norton is a gateway to:

  Denis Kearney, sandlot politics, and race relations,
Bummer & Lazarus (not his dogs),  E Clampus Vitus,
Lillie Hitchcock Coit "5," minority & women's rights, the post Gold Rush period,
the Emperor's bridge, His reign, San Francisco's biggest funeral,
and all of it royally tinted with a Monty Python quality of madness.

At last, history with a sense of humor!
As dry and uninspiring as Bay Bridge is Norton-the-First isn't. He wasn't just a little loony, he inspired lunacy around Him. Many shed some of the time's self-limiting "wisdom," for what was possible to the open mind, e.g. arching The Bay with a suspension bridge and being host-city to America's Emperor--two good things.

His gentle lunacy also humbled more than a few anti-Asian racists! [Please read our webpages on His Imperial Largess: Chivalry.] If you know anything about Norton-1, you know everything about Him was kinda nuts. The guy was a walking Star Trek Convention where anyone who wanted to dress up and play a part was welcome to and did (and still do).

San Francisco had an emperor who wrote His own money, which was honored as legal, dined free in many restaurants, was saluted by the police, and issued proclamations which the newspapers eagerly printed (and fabricated).

Emperor Norton-1 was and is fun!
What's wrong with having some fun with a bridge?! We're not trying to sell it; just rename it--especially when it's getting a whole new span.

Whether Emperor Norton-1 (or businesspersona Joshua Abraham Norton as He manifested prior to ascendancy), ever campaigned for a bridge across San Francisco Bay is less important to our effort than the certainty that the bridge is historically tied to Him. No doubt a lot of other mid-19th Century visionaries thought a span linking Oakland and San Francisco was desirable, but name two.

The point is, it got built. Having been built, it got named. And the name it got we'd like changed.

We request you join our campaign to rename
"The Oakland Bay Bridge" to the Fancy script: Emperor Norton Bridge. [sample text below]

Please write on paper that you want the bridge rechristened, then snailmail your short message to the following decision makers:

Mayor: Ron Dellums
One Frank Ogawa Plaza
(One City Hall Plaza)
3rd Floor
Oakland, California 94612
Oakland City Council
One Frank Ogawa Plaza
(One City Hall Plaza) 3rd Floor
Oakland, California 94612

Your state Assemblyperson
Your state Senator

(find their addresses here)

 Here's why:
A professional lobbyist told me (so you're not taking a nerd's word for it) that the electronically generated response one gets after emailing a politician ["...necessary because of the huge volume of email..."] is about equal to what the official's staff did with your e-letter. That is, electronically file-13ed it. You think you get spam? Get elected!

The lobbyist emphasized, "E-petitions are a waste of time; emailings don't count; pre-printed postcards hardly matter because they're orchestrated; but a written letter still gets read—a phone caller listened to. One letter still counts as 100 constituents speaking."

His point's well taken. Remember, it's doubtful secretaries [the people you're actually communicating with] have time to do more than count you into the FOR or AGAINST mailbags. Therefore, please write a terse snailmail letter directly to the person(s) above.
PS: keep it short.

Sample thoughts as to why you want the bridge renamed. Use no more than 1 or 2 of these. Better yet, don't. Make up your own!

  I'm a Californian [an American]. We own the bridge.
I use the bridge.
A new structure: a new name.
Emperor Norton-1 proclaimed it should be built. He published first.
His name has been linked to it from the beginning.
It's a great name.
I had no idea about the Emperor until I heard of the proposed name-change. (Now I'm all!)