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City Flags Ranked
April 14, 2013 2:55 PM   Subscribe

150 U.S. city flags, ranked from best to worst. Top-rated flags are typically tasteful and abstract, like that of Washington D.C. (#1) or subtly representational, like Madison, Wisconsin's flag(#11), which is more or less a glyph of Madison seen from above. The bottom of the list has some that seem stuck in a briefly popular graphic style, like Provo (#143), but most are timelessly ongepotch like the flag of Milwaukee (#147), which features a boat, a skyline, some smokestacks, some grain, County Stadium, a Native American,and a church. And then there is Pocatello (#150), whose flag was memorably profiled on badflags. (Vexillology previously on MetaFilter.)
posted by escabeche (126 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Really? The dang birthday cake flag is #1? I couldn't even figure that thing out for the first 5 years I lived there. I just assumed is was some common pattern of bunting or something.
posted by poe at 3:00 PM on April 14, 2013


Whooooo damn right bitches DC 4 lyfe crank that gogo!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:02 PM on April 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Baltimore should be ranked much higher.

Phoenix looks like prog rock cover art.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:04 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


RICHMOND
The world capital of stand-up paddleboarding
posted by miyabo at 3:08 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Most of these look like a third grader won a competition to design the city's flag. Granted, that may have been the case for some of them.
posted by hoyland at 3:10 PM on April 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not loading for me. Has the whole internet gone flag crazy?
posted by arcticseal at 3:11 PM on April 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had a feeling Des Moines would be near the top. It's a graphical representation of our arched bridges.
posted by TrialByMedia at 3:11 PM on April 14, 2013


The Provo flag looks like Gerry Adams just discovered wordart.
posted by jaduncan at 3:12 PM on April 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Could the Montgomery, Ala., flag (#45) be any more neo-Confederate without actually being a Confederate battle flag?
posted by fogovonslack at 3:12 PM on April 14, 2013


CHICAGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
posted by liketitanic at 3:12 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Milwaukee flag completely cracks me up. It's like one of those "can you find all the things hidden in this picture?" puzzles for kids. Plus it is a flag with a flag on it. I wonder why the flag on the flag doesn't have a flag?

(Madison, on the other hand, is super-classy.)
posted by theatro at 3:13 PM on April 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also I'm pretty sure the Sacramento flag is what you have to sail down if you don't have enough money to take the Barlow Toll Road.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:15 PM on April 14, 2013


Sigh, We just get windmills and wampum here in NYC, although the city's colors of blue, white and orange are nice.<
posted by The Whelk at 3:15 PM on April 14, 2013


First link not working for me. But Pocatello puts the "vex" in "vexillology."

That is probably not a new joke. In fact, I get the feeling that is probably the field's only joke. I'm sorry.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:16 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did you have to harsh my Milwaukee Day buzz? Granted, the city totally deserves that 147 ranking, but what other cities have a whale hidden somewhere on their flag?
posted by drezdn at 3:16 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is Chicago top 10? It's got to be top ten.
posted by drezdn at 3:17 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually kind of like Milwaukee; yeah, it's crowded, but it's a real city flag for a real city and it's got some neat stuff on it. At least it doesn't look like a logo for a gas station like apparently half the flags in Texas.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:17 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Based on the flag, "Provo" is some brand of vitamin supplement.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:18 PM on April 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Also I think Fort Worth is supposed to be a steer or something but it actually looks like the speedo worn by an elderly European man at a hotel where I stayed once.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:18 PM on April 14, 2013


Welcome to another episode of Sheldon Cooper presents, Fun with Flags.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:22 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mesa, AZ looks like it should be on a 1980s Wordperfect or Windows 2.0 box.
posted by TrialByMedia at 3:22 PM on April 14, 2013


Rats, can't load this site. Is MetaFilter killing it?
posted by pennig at 3:23 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't eve realize Austin *had* a flag. State capitol = state flag everywhere.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:24 PM on April 14, 2013


I think so -- it worked fine before I posted.
posted by escabeche at 3:24 PM on April 14, 2013


RICHMOND
The world capital of stand-up paddleboarding


We are the only city in the country with a Class IV rapids running through our downtown, so it's not totally inapt.

OK, it's a pretty bad flag, but it's better than our old one, which was two-sided and had confederate imagery, an ugly badge thing, and difficult-to-read mottos.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:24 PM on April 14, 2013


I can't see the Provo flag without thinking of this.
posted by escabeche at 3:25 PM on April 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I kid you not, when I looked at the Provo flag I thought of this.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:30 PM on April 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yep, Centrum, that's what I thought of too.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:33 PM on April 14, 2013


Provo, proud to be twinned with Centrum, Sweden.
posted by Jehan at 3:35 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love Oakland's Flag. You can hear the designer saying "Yeah, that'll do." just looking at it.
posted by Grimgrin at 3:41 PM on April 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I love Oakland's Flag. You can hear the designer saying "Yeah, that'll do." just looking at it.

I honestly had no idea Oakland had a flag. I thought that tree was just the city's logo. I guess they felt the need to stick it on a flag.
posted by hoyland at 3:47 PM on April 14, 2013


The site is borked so I can't see how high it's rated, but I think we have a damn good flag here in Phoenix.

I'd buy a maroon t-shirt with that logo any time, though I don't think anyone seems to make one. Nice, simple design that has aged well (I think it's a 70s or 80s creation).
posted by Old Man McKay at 3:47 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't eve realize Austin *had* a flag. State capitol = state flag everywhere.

State capitolTexas = stateTexas flag everywhere.
posted by birdherder at 3:48 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Yeah, that'll do." just looking at it.

I'm hearing new a city motto here.
posted by jaduncan at 3:48 PM on April 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


State capitolTexas = stateTexas flag everywhere.

Yeah, good point.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:50 PM on April 14, 2013


Not exactly a city flag, but my favorite: The Conch Republic
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:51 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Provo flag looks like Gerry Adams just discovered wordart.

I would've said "Corel Draw."
posted by en forme de poire at 3:54 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Provo: The More You Know
posted by heurtebise at 3:58 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


If the intent of a "city flag" is to convey the spirit of a city with a simple graphic, Provo's flag is definitely the most successful. It's so Provo.
posted by anewnadir at 4:01 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is Chicago top 10? It's got to be top ten

If this is based on the 2004 rankings, then Chicago is #2 according to the wikipedia page for it.

Doesn't have everything, but wikipedia does have a visual list of US city flags.

I think Pensacola goes furthest in the category of "our flag depicts the flag of every nation this city was a part of at some point". LA does that too, but not so crazy, and I kind of like the zig-zags. My favorite might be Wichita.
posted by LionIndex at 4:11 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


[2] days since the last DUI: It's so Provo.
posted by jaduncan at 4:14 PM on April 14, 2013


Linky no worky for me, but I sure hope Maryland's flag is close to the ugly end.

(Even though Maryland's not a city. Still.)
posted by yoga at 4:33 PM on April 14, 2013


The dang birthday cake flag is #1? I couldn't even figure that thing out for the first 5 years I lived there.

Srsly. I've lived here for 37 years and that flag has always looked like a consolation prize-winner in a Civics class for flag design. "Birthday cake flag" says it all.

It may have George Washington's family crest in it, but he wasn't the president who owned my family.
posted by vhsiv at 4:48 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Linky no worky for me, but I sure hope Maryland's flag is close to the ugly end.

Maryland's flag was voted fourth most beautiful US/Canadian state/provincial flag by NAVA. (I'd link, but their site appears to be down)

Which of course is three spots too low.
posted by NBelarski at 4:49 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Site definitely seems to be down. Got a cached version, anyone?
posted by Going To Maine at 4:50 PM on April 14, 2013


The Phoenix flag is pretty cool. I think one of my alts is in that clan.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:52 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Provo? I'm more Antivo, if you must.

GtM: Coral is not picking it up, so tough luck there. Wikipedia does have the top eight displayed here.

DC; Chicago; Denver; Phoenix; St. Louis; Wichita; Portland, OR; Indianapolis.
posted by dhartung at 4:54 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you can argue about whether or not the good flags are the best flags, but the worst ones are just SO FREAKING AWFUL. Design by committee gone horribly, horribly wrong.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:05 PM on April 14, 2013


Now this makes me want to add City flags as a download to my iPad 3D flag app FlagWaver.
posted by w0mbat at 5:16 PM on April 14, 2013


Portrait orientation? Really, Durham?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:18 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heh, I was just having the "how the hell did St. Louis score so awesome a flag?" conversation with someone about two weeks ago.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:32 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ask your doctor if Provo is right for you.
posted by JHarris at 5:53 PM on April 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


Zoom out for a moment. World flags are really interesting. Point your eyeballs at world flags and give me one minute to explain why this is interesting.

Drift your gaze across all of those flags, but I'll ask you to pay attention. Are there horizontal stripes? Are there vertical stripes? Is there a box in the upper left-hand corner? Are there stars? Some of these are features of the U.S. flag, but also of the flags of many other countries. Why?

Does the color scheme involve primary colors? Is red, blue, or green the primary color? Why?

Almost every flag of every country has a predictable derivation. The history of colonialism explains some of it. Communism explains some of it. Pure practicality explains some of it.

It's an interesting exercise.

At my home we fly the flag of Nepal. We're not Nepalese, but damn if we don't like the shape of the flag of Nepal.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:04 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


99% Invisible saluted flag design in this podcast.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 6:05 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


St. Louis above all others
posted by kmay at 6:05 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Say what you will about the Mesa flag, but that slogan is wonderful. "Great People, Quality Service!" Such an earnest, sincere, modest city-pride, those Mesans have.
posted by meese at 6:17 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find myself getting oddly defensive about the Milwaukee flag. Damnit, there's something for everyone in it.
posted by desjardins at 6:20 PM on April 14, 2013


but most are timelessly ongepotch

It's spelled Ongepotchket and is not a term that we, in the flag community, use regularly.

There really is a flag community. I have a flag pole outside my house and I devote considerable thought, with the help of that community, toward flying the appropriate flag at the appropriate time.

Don't piss us off. Because, you know, we can fly a flag about that.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:34 PM on April 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find myself getting oddly defensive about the Milwaukee flag. Damnit, there's something for everyone in it.

No, it doesn't. It doesn't have the Summerfest logo. Ridiculous.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:37 PM on April 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I find myself getting oddly defensive about the Milwaukee flag. Damnit, there's something for everyone in it.

I think if they lost the name and the date it would actually be OK. The design is pretty nice, there's just too much of it.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:37 PM on April 14, 2013


Although it does have a building with a face on it. So. Close.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:38 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's spelled Ongepotchket

That's what the web says, but it's not what my Yiddish-speaking grandma says, and I say what she says, because Tradition.

Also, I am from Maryland, and the Maryland flag is the best flag of all state flags.
posted by escabeche at 6:46 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


>It's spelled Ongepotchket

That's what the web says, but it's not what my Yiddish-speaking grandma says, and I say what she says, because Tradition.


You know, there are multiple methods of transliterating Yiddish (though I think there's usually one convention per non-Yiddish language, though this is far from my area of expertise) and at least two groups of Yiddish dialects...
posted by hoyland at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2013


I was just looking at this gallery of people flying their freak flags and was suddenly depressed that most of them just made a flag with the word "freak" on it. That's no way to fly your freak flag, people. Please try harder.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:00 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've always thought the New Orleans flag was classy as hell.

Correction: I had no idea that flag was the Official Flag Of New Orleans, but I have always thought it was classy as hell.
posted by Sara C. at 7:06 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I am from Maryland, and the Maryland flag is the best flag of all state flags.

Whenever I see the Maryland flag I reflexively think: "Drivers, start you engines".
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:09 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks to be dead, Jim... Or at least of this post.
posted by Samizdata at 7:10 PM on April 14, 2013


So many flags near the bottom with the name of the city on the flag. It just seems wrong. Cheap, somehow. And a lot of them look like they'd be better off as bumper stickers or election campaign-style lawn signs. Eww.

Chicago, by the way, has a much better flag than DC. You don't see many world heavyweight champions repping DC's flag, do you? Nope, just Chicago.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:13 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here is an another link with the best and worst of city flags from all over the world.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:16 PM on April 14, 2013


Man, 1970s graphics style looked good for about a decade and a half, tops, and then "WTF were we thinking?".
posted by benito.strauss at 7:19 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Contrast with the flags of Japanese municipalities.
posted by brappi at 7:32 PM on April 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


brappi: that's a history of daimyo with taste for you.
posted by jaduncan at 7:34 PM on April 14, 2013


Wow dig that Koga flag.
posted by Mister_A at 7:38 PM on April 14, 2013


Wow dig that Koga flag.

HP 390
Appears in groups of 3 in grassland and swamp areas.
Casts Heal, Blizaga.
Worth 220 XP, 3 AP.
posted by JHarris at 7:48 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey alright Philly's is passable.
posted by Mister_A at 7:51 PM on April 14, 2013


Most of these fall into the category "slow day at the State Capitol."

Pop quiz! For American readers... see how many you can name:posted by twoleftfeet at 8:06 PM on April 14, 2013


Since the site's down I don't really have anything on point to contribute, but I do want to say that I've always loved the flag for Aklavik, Northwest Territories. It's like someone looked at the Canadian flag and decided that it was pretty good, but lacking in the pissed-off rat and combative slogan departments.
posted by ZaphodB at 8:14 PM on April 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


twoleftfeet, while I doubt I know most of those, for Michigan, at least, it's pretty damn easy to remember the state motto, which translates to: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."

Y'know, just in case you're looking for not only a peninsula, but a pleasant peninsula, hey, Michigan's got you covered.

Hint: The pleasant one is below the bridge. The one above the bridge is the, uh, other peninsula. We don't like to talke about them all that much.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:18 PM on April 14, 2013


Since the site is down, here's the list. I knew STL's flag had to be near the top. It's classy.

1 Washington D.C. 9.17
2 Chicago Ill. 9.03
3 Denver Colo. 8.86
4 Phoenix Ariz. 8.65
5 St. Louis Mo. 8.56
6 Wichita Kan. 8.41
7 Portland Ore. 8.38
8 Indianapolis Ind. 8.35
9 Louisville Ky. 8.11
10 Corpus Christi Texas 8.02
11 Madison Wis. 7.92
12 Jackson Miss. 7.83
13 San Antonio Texas 7.79
14 Des Moines Iowa 7.77
15 Richmond Va. 7.76
16 New Orleans La. 7.74
17 Irving Texas 7.65
18 Baltimore Md. 7.64
19 Colorado Springs Colo. 7.05
20 Fremont Calif. 6.79
21 Dallas Texas 6.27
22 Cincinnati Ohio 6.26
23 St. Petersburg Fla. 6.24
24 Pittsburgh Pa. 6.06
25 Albuquerque N.M. 5.89
26 Omaha Neb. 5.59
27 Minneapolis Minn. 5.58
28 Annapolis Md. 5.39
29 Anchorage Alaska 5.33
30 Seattle Wash. 5.32
31 Philadelphia Pa. 5.30
32 Buffalo N.Y. 5.26
33 Los Angeles Calif. 5.24
34 Albany N.Y. 5.20
35 San Francisco Calif. 5.14
36 Fresno Calif. 5.12
37 New York N.Y. 5.11
38 Jacksonville Fla. 5.03
39 Birmingham Ala. 4.97
40 Sacramento Calif. 4.97
41 Springfield Ill. 4.89
42 Wilmington Del. 4.88
43 Nashville Tenn. 4.85
44 St. Paul Minn. 4.80
45 Montgomery Ala. 4.76
46 Topeka Kan. 4.76
47 Oakland Calif. 4.74
48 Shreveport La. 4.74
49 Fort Smith Ark. 4.73
50 Charleston W. Va. 4.71
51 Salem Ore. 4.71
52 Fort Wayne Ind. 4.62
53 Rochester N.Y. 4.61
54 Memphis Tenn. 4.56
55 Houston Texas 4.55
56 Raleigh N.C. 4.48
57 San Diego Calif. 4.47
58 Arlington Texas 4.45
59 Cleveland Ohio 4.45
60 Casper Wyo. 4.42
61 Riverside Calif. 4.42
62 Austin Texas 4.38
63 Jefferson City Mo. 4.36
64 Concord N.H. 4.30
65 Tallahassee Fla. 4.29
66 Charlotte N.C. 4.24
67 Fort Worth Texas 4.24
68 Trenton N.J. 4.24
69 Chesapeake Va. 4.20
70 Miami Fla. 4.18
71 Detroit Mich. 4.17
72 Columbus Ohio 4.09
73 Grand Forks N.D. 4.09
74 Harrisburg Pa. 4.09
75 Little Rock Ark. 4.06
76 Mobile Ala. 4.05
77 Worcester Mass. 4.02
78 San Jose Calif. 3.97
79 Tampa Fla. 3.97
80 Baton Rouge La. 3.95
81 Cheyenne Wyo. 3.95
82 Newark N.J. 3.86
83 Plano Texas 3.86
84 Carson City Nev. 3.85
85 Columbia S.C. 3.83
86 Garland Texas 3.79
87 Jersey City N.J. 3.79
88 Lincoln Neb. 3.79
89 Dover Del. 3.77
90 Long Beach Calif. 3.70
91 El Paso Texas 3.67
92 Santa Ana Calif. 3.65
93 Las Vegas Nev. 3.61
94 Toledo Ohio 3.61
95 Bismarck N.D. 3.59
96 Atlanta Ga. 3.58
97 Augusta Maine 3.58
98 Greensboro N.C. 3.48
99 Salt Lake City Utah 3.47
100 Stockton Calif. 3.45
101 Warwick R.I. 3.44
102 Glendale Ariz. 3.38
103 Kansas City Mo. 3.38
104 Aurora Colo. 3.36
105 Grand Rapids Mich. 3.36
106 Billings Mont. 3.35
107 Burlington Vt. 3.23
108 Lansing Mich. 3.20
109 Olympia Wash. 3.18
110 Augusta Ga. 3.15
111 Spokane Wash. 3.15
112 Lexington Ky. 3.11
113 Bakersfield Calif. 3.09
114 Boise Idaho 3.05
115 Pierre S.D. 3.05
116 Norfolk Va. 3.00
117 Santa Fe N.M. 2.97
118 Manchester N.H. 2.95
119 Hartford Conn. 2.94
120 Glendale Calif. 2.92
121 Gulfport Miss. 2.92
122 Honolulu Hawaii 2.91
123 Helena Mont. 2.89
124 Tulsa Okla. 2.88
125 Virginia Beach Va. 2.88
126 Akron Ohio 2.86
127 Yonkers N.Y. 2.86
128 Scottsdale Ariz. 2.80
129 Providence R.I. 2.79
130 Oklahoma City Okla. 2.74
131 Portland Maine 2.74
132 Tacoma Wash. 2.74
133 Boston Mass. 2.71
134 Juneau Alaska 2.70
135 Tucson Ariz. 2.67
136 Charleston S.C. 2.61
137 Anaheim Calif. 2.56
138 Maui Hawaii 2.56
139 Bridgeport Conn. 2.50
140 Frankfort Ky. 2.41
141 Montpelier Vt. 2.35
142 Cedar Rapids Iowa 2.23
143 Provo Utah 2.14
144 Lubbock Texas 1.92
145 Hialeah Fla. 1.85
146 Mesa Ariz. 1.73
147 Milwaukee Wis. 1.59
148 Rapid City S.D. 1.56
149 Huntington W. Va. 1.50
150 Pocatello Idaho 1.48
posted by chrisamiller at 8:24 PM on April 14, 2013


I've always liked the Indianapolis flag.

I've never set foot in the state but Maryland's flag is pretty damn cool looking.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:27 PM on April 14, 2013


I've seen more than a few people 'round here with Rochester's flag tattoos.
posted by Lucinda at 8:29 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aklavik, Northwest Territories.

"Even our rodents are more erudite than you, trappers."
posted by jaduncan at 8:40 PM on April 14, 2013


Toronto's flag sucks.

(It's funny upside-down, though.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:00 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."

[dick joke pending]
posted by Sys Rq at 9:03 PM on April 14, 2013


City of Faribault: why yes, our flag was designed by our web designer, back in 1998.

Pensacola: ALL OF THE FLAGS!

There is a flag for a city near the Great Lakes (I think) that is the shape of the city. Conveniently, the city is rectangular, with a notch taken out by the lake. The simplicity is fantastic. Now, I cannot remember which city it was.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:06 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


St. Louis's flag is SO MUCH BETTER than Chicago's whatever.
posted by BlueJae at 9:06 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite flag of all time, though not a State flag, was the flag of Rwanda between 1962 and 2001. They've changed it since, but the brilliance of the old design is worth commenting.

They based their flag on the flag of nearby Ethiopia. Here's a high-resolution image of the flag of Ethiopia.

But they wanted to make their own flag which reflected their own identity as the separate nation of Rwanda. So they took the flag of Ethiopia, rotated it 90 degrees, and put a great big R on it.

A lot of flag designs are just as imaginative.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:08 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


City of Faribault: why yes, our flag was designed by our web designer, back in 1998.

Suddenly I know what Metafilter's flag should be.
posted by eruonna at 9:13 PM on April 14, 2013


Toronto's flag is fucking gorgeous, full of that utopia energy we had for like 5 years in the late 60s and early 70s
posted by PinkMoose at 9:41 PM on April 14, 2013


The happy pastel swastika look is hard to pull off. Well done, Portland.
posted by pleurodirous at 9:48 PM on April 14, 2013


I wish I could get nava.org to load so I could see how in the world we lost out to Washington. Always the Second City, I guess.

I'm sure the Washington flag has its fans, but Chicagoans have embraced their flag with a pride I haven't seen elsewhere. Because it's so iconic, it's easy to adapt it to your own particular subculture. Even reduced to one star or one stripe, it's still recognizable, and it looks great on all sorts of merchandise.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:58 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My city is probably too small or obscure to make the list, but it's basically our seal on a white field- and it's one of the most moving flags I've ever seen.

Some background: before and during the US Civil War, there was a lot of controversy as to whether new states should allow slavery or not. Kansas was a test ground for the idea of 'popular sovereignty'- that the new settlers of the territory should decide on the Slave or Free status of the state based on popular vote. This created a zerg rush of both slavers and abolitionists populating the state to win the vote.

What ensued was a bloody battle between anti-slavery activists and pro-slavery bushwhackers, fought over the border between Missouri- an established slave state- and Kansas- whose status was up in the air. John Brown, the anti-slavery terrorist, became famous for brutally murdering slavery supporters with sword and pike. Entire towns were razed to the ground on both sides, leaving only stone chimneys behind. When it came time to start naming the different districts of the Kansas Territory, a large swath of Southeast KS was simply named "Burnt District".

Lawrence was founded during all of this as the political capitol of the Free State Jayhawkers (from whence KU's mascot comes)- and was burned down several times. The Eldridge Hotel, still standing about half a mile from where I'm sitting, started as a two-story building, but was defiantly rebuilt with an extra story every time it was burned down- it currently stands five stories tall. The most notable razing was the 1863 Lawrence Massacre, performed by a group of Confederate irregulars led by John Brown's bushwhacker crazy man counterpart, William Quantrill.

The seal depicts a phoenix rising from the smoke and ruined buildings of downtown Lawrence, representing the sheer willpower to remain vigilant in fighting human slavery in the face of terror and conflagration. It's on our government documents and police cars and constantly reminds me why I love this town and why it stands out as distinctly different from the rest of Kansas.

(edit: added some wikipedia links since I forgot that most people haven't been learning this stuff since they were little kids)
posted by maus at 9:58 PM on April 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


The happy pastel swastika look is hard to pull off. Well done, Portland.
posted by pleurodirous at 2:48 PM on April 15 [+] [!]


There's a joke to be made here about the fact that Portland is, demographically, the whitest big city in America.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:59 PM on April 14, 2013


That's not a swastika, though. It is at worst swastikesque, which is not at all the same thing.
posted by Scientist at 10:23 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, that's a really nice story, maus. Thanks for that.
posted by Scientist at 10:26 PM on April 14, 2013


Suddenly I know what Metafilter's flag should be.

Well, I did one for the 10th anniversary meetup. I knew using letters wouldn't win me many vexillological style points, but I had a hard time coming up with recognizable abstractions.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:39 PM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


hydrophonic: I was going to ask what the ten stars represent, but it's just years, isn't it?
posted by aubilenon at 10:45 PM on April 14, 2013


San Francisco seems to be the place in the list where things start getting kind of ugly. I do think Oakland's flag is great and deserves to be higher up on this list.
posted by aubilenon at 10:51 PM on April 14, 2013


Suddenly I know what Metafilter's flag should be.

Well, I did one for the 10th anniversary meetup. I knew using letters wouldn't win me many vexillological style points, but I had a hard time coming up with recognizable abstractions.



I had an idea for the basis of a mefi flag. It just needs something a bit more. A star to represent every subsite would be good I guess. Maybe a big star in the white area to represent the front page, then a small star in the lower area for all the subsites.
posted by Authorized User at 11:38 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe a plate of beans, a cat in a scanner, or a sleeping Ralph Wiggum in a Viking helmet?
posted by JHarris at 1:12 AM on April 15, 2013


I love Denver's flag.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:34 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The flag of Lethbridge is Old Glory as drawn by Piet Mondrian. It looks like a printing error.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:37 AM on April 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, that's a really nice story, maus. Thanks for that.

You're quite welcome! Of all the heraldry of the handful of places I've lived, nothing makes me simultaneously think and feel as much as the phoenix emblazoned on every police car. That might be because I grew up in one of those suburban sprawls where all of the civic flags look and function more like tourism advertisements than actual symbols of collective humanity.
posted by maus at 1:38 AM on April 15, 2013


Most of those Japanese municipal flags look like something I could picture emblazoned on the shoulder panel of a gigantic robot. I suppose that's not a coincidence.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:52 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to say they all could equally serve as logos for shipping companies. Although I could find it believable that the future's scientists who make giant robos in their secret labs are being underwritten by shipping companies exploring new transportation systems. It works.
posted by ardgedee at 5:40 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Augusta, GA is 110, a little below Augusta, Me at 97. Many people expect this to be the Augusta, GA flag. Why do cities need flags, anyway? The late Lewis Grizzard didn't even think states need them.

I notice the Metroplex is somewhat over-represented on the list. I counted Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Arlington, and Garland. I probably missed a couple.

I like Helena's motto, Guardian of the Gulch.
posted by TedW at 6:56 AM on April 15, 2013


Many of the designs appear to be products of their times, and not (Sacramento, Salem, Arlington, Plano, Spokane, et al.) in good ways.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:57 AM on April 15, 2013


Re the Fort Worth longhorn steer-head; that fucking thing is everywhere. They run fake cattle drives in the stockyard district for the tourists. We're called Cowtown. So.

More fun facts; there is a giant topiary steer on a sidewalk downtown. He used to be a bull, but people complained, so out came the shears, snip-snip.
posted by emjaybee at 6:59 AM on April 15, 2013


Nice comment about Lawrence, KS, maus. It made me notice that a few other cities use the Phoenix as well. Phoenix, AZ (of course), but also San Francisco (1906 earthquake), and Atlanta (including the police) The dates on the Atlanta flag reflect its founding and its destruction at the hands of anti-slavery forces, sort of the opposite of Lawrence's flag.
posted by TedW at 7:13 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seems to me that, as a general rule, if need to have writing on your flag you should reconsider the design.

The Rochester flag is indeed gorgeous. Please to see Indianapolis ranked highly.

I sort of love the Provo flag, though, in how flagrantly it breaks my rule postulated above. Plus the drop-shadow!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:37 AM on April 15, 2013


Yeah, Pittsburgh represent. The city's flag is why all the sports teams are black and gold.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:53 AM on April 15, 2013


Plano's flag looks like the logo of a convenience store. For some reason, I imagine that's appropriate.
posted by slogger at 8:03 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll just reiterate what I wrote about the Provo flag in an old thread: It's like they just tore the label off a thing of multivitamins.

That said, I kind of like it.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 AM on April 15, 2013


I kind of like the flag of St. Petersburg, FL, but I can't help imagining the designer thinking "I can't believe they went for it."

On the other hand, the flag of St. Petersburg, Russia proves that upside-down anchors look menacing.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:19 AM on April 15, 2013


What I love so much about the awesome flag of the City and County of Denver is the way it echoes the colors, style and graphic language of the Colorado state flag while at the same time managing to be its own thing entirely.
posted by heurtebise at 8:32 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, not super happy that the Wichita and Madison flags prominently feature the Pueblo Indian "Zia" design, when the Pueblo live thousands of miles away. They deserve major negative points for that. But I guess Indians are all the same, right....
posted by miyabo at 8:50 AM on April 15, 2013


Why do cities need flags, anyway?

For the same reason countries do. When you're lost you can look up and figure out where you're at. I use it to orient myself all the time.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:19 AM on April 15, 2013


Is anyone else completely amused by the fact that there exists a city whose motto is "Great people, quality service"? It's like, if you want to get a good deal on a dishwasher, come on down to Mesa, Arizona!
posted by breakin' the law at 10:08 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Phoenix looks a bit like a graphic from science fiction film about a futuristic fascist tyranny.
posted by tomarrow at 10:08 AM on April 15, 2013


I just want to point out Rochester, Minnesota's flag. That's right, we used a MICR font. On a flag. You're welcome.
posted by ckape at 10:55 AM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


A Mefi flag should just be a Blue, Grey, and Green tricolour.
posted by painquale at 11:29 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seems strangely appropriate to flag this post as a double. (Although in fairness the original URL is borked.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:34 AM on April 15, 2013


For more flag-judging fun, see old internet classic The world's flags given letter grades, with useful guidelines.
posted by eykal at 3:56 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the Japanese municipal flags because of the simple, yet effective designs. Mostly though because they look like different things: Matsuyama fights for the Autobots, Tsuchiura is a Rebel Alliance Stronghold, Gotenba is a Black Mesa competitor, Itoigawa loves in-line skating, and Kanazawa is a big grump and doesn't like anything at all.
posted by Zack_Replica at 4:11 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Des Moines! The Boobies Capital of the World!!!

Provo, Irony Capital of the World? Or is there something they aren't telling us?

Untington West Virginia!

Holy Crap Pocatello, that is AWFUL.
posted by Xoebe at 8:29 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Provo is an excellent source of irony.
posted by JHarris at 9:47 AM on April 16, 2013


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