Rhoda Goldman Plaza
2180 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
(parking information available at http://www.jewishgen.org/sfbajgs/calendar.html)
A Jewish businessman originally from England and South Africa, Joshua Abraham Norton arrived in San Francisco in 1849 with $40,000, which after some shrewd investing increased to $250,000 (about $3 million today). After losing his fortune to a bad rice investment, Norton disappeared, returning to San Francisco in 1859 and declaring himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. In any other city, he would have been dismissed as a madman, but the people of San Francisco embraced his reign. He ate for free in restaurants, had the best seats in the theater, the police saluted him, and he even printed his own money, which was accepted as legal tender throughout the city. He issued numerous proclamations, calling for a bridge to be built across San Francisco Bay—in the exact spot where the Bay Bridge stands today. Other proclamations called for the founding of a league of nations to promote world peace, and the United Nations were founded in San Francisco in 1945; the erection of a Christmas tree in Union Square, where one has stood ever since he called for it; and banning use of the word “Frisco”, punishable by a $25 fine. When he died on January 8, 1880, he was given the biggest funeral the city has seen to this day.
About the speaker: Joseph Amster, a displaced journalist with an acting background, wanted to create a walking tour with a twist, offering his patrons a unique experience. “I decided early on that I wanted to do my tour in character and researched the historical figures from San Francisco’s past,” says Amster. “The more I read about Emperor Norton, the more fascinated I became with him.” After completing his research, Amster took on the character of Emperor Norton, complete with uniform, beard, and plumed top hat.
The San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development, preservation, and distribution of Jewish genealogical knowledge and material, and the sharing of techniques and tools with others who may be researching their Jewish roots. Meetings are free, and everyone interested is welcome to attend. Coffee and tea will be served.
For more information, visit our Web site or contact gro.s1464487073gjabf1464487073s@yti1464487073cilbu1464487073p1464487073.