Joshua Norton (1819-1880) was a San Francisco businessman who first lost his fortune then his mind, declaring himself Emperor of the United States. San Francisco, being San Francisco, was behind him all the way.
A few of his royal decrees included the abolition of the word “Frisco”, the construction of a bay bridge into Oakland and the production of Imperial currency with his likeness, which became legal tender in the city.
He is pictured here with Bummer and Lazarus, the dogs who accompanied him everywhere. Located at the bus stop in the Financial District, this tablet was dedicated in 1939 by E Clampus Vitus, an eccentric fraternal order dedicated to western heritage. Meanwhile the city was coming up short in its ambitions to build a more regal statue. The proposed Deco style figure was finally produced in 2010.
See that story from SF Weekly here: http://bit.ly/dyUJG4