Gabriele Basilico, San Francisco, 2007; digital pigment print; SFMOMA
Honoring Emperor Norton
One of SF’s ur-eccentrics, (self-proclaimed) Emperor Norton, called on Congress in the 1870s to fund a bridge and tunnel across the Bay connecting San Francisco to Oakland. Some 50 years later, with the aid of the Army Corps (and the Great Depression, ohey stimulus!), the Bay Bridge was constructed in three years and opened in 1936. After the western span was severely damaged in the 89 Loma Prieta earthquake, a new span — taking some 20 years to complete– was constructed. In 2013, a local change.org campaign urged the state to commemorate the western span after Norton, but ultimately the state bestowed that honor to former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. The campaign has since incorporated into a non-profit dedicated to researching and advancing Norton’s legacy. Maybe the second transbay BART tube, currently under preliminary study, could bear Norton’s namesake?
I lost myself in a bit of nostalgia this weekend. I came across this picture from a roll of film I shot back in the 90s when I lived in Berlin. A number of the images were captured on the film before it advanced to the film’s first picture position. A happy mistake, because I don’t think I could have produced such an image if I had intentionally tried.