Best and worst U.S. city flags
October 8, 2004 5:06 PM   Subscribe

The best and worst city flags in the U.S. (Plus, how to design a good flag.)
posted by Tlogmer (29 comments total)

 
A few from the top of the list:

Denver | Pheonix | Wichita | Portland

And from the bottom:

Provo | Milwaukee | Pocatello
posted by Tlogmer at 5:10 PM on October 8, 2004


Cities have flags? Who knew?
posted by donovan at 5:29 PM on October 8, 2004


My favorites were the ultra-cool seventies designs from Texas: Arlington and Plano.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:51 PM on October 8, 2004


Graded national flags. Congratulations, Gambia.
posted by PrinceValium at 5:54 PM on October 8, 2004


That Provo one is great-- looks like a Vitamin or Cereal label.
posted by cell divide at 5:57 PM on October 8, 2004


I lived in Tampa for 3 and a half years and never realized its flag was so asstastic.
posted by contessa at 5:58 PM on October 8, 2004


I'm kind of frightened of Wichita's flag. Sure, it's cool and all, but doesn't it remind anyone else of the scary flags of Evil Invading Aliens from 1950s science-fiction movies?

And is anyone else disturbed that the Seattle flag bears an astonishingly close resemblance to the Starbucks logo? Coincidence? I think not.

That Pocatello flag was clearly designed by a committee.

"Well, we need the mountains, yep. And that "Proud to be Pocatello" slogan--that's a must. And don't forget the trademark symbol. And the copyright information. And those little red horizontal lines that Bill's so crazy about..."
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:07 PM on October 8, 2004


Also, the respondents seem to me to be way too biased against the tried-and-true "superimpose the 19th-century city seal on a white or blue background" solution. No way that Boston's perfectly reasonable, if a little staid and boring, flag should be #133 while that Tampa abomination is #75.

It's an outrage, I tells ya! An outrage!
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:10 PM on October 8, 2004


A general rule seems to be "if it belongs on a NASCAR vehicle, it's not a proper flag".
posted by clevershark at 8:09 PM on October 8, 2004


#14 baby, oh yeah.
posted by mikeh at 8:13 PM on October 8, 2004


> Simple Check
> Meaningful Symbolism Check
> Use 2–3 Basic Colors Check
> No Lettering or Seals Check
> Be Distinctive or Be Related Check
I nominate Tuktoyaktuk, North West Territories.

(Slight off topic. I like how the old Colorado Rockies jersey was essentially the state flag.)
posted by philfromhavelock at 8:37 PM on October 8, 2004


The seal idea is bad -- not necessarily aesthetically, but medium-wise -- because it's not readable from a distance or from both sides, wears out easily, is expensive, etc.
posted by Tlogmer at 8:57 PM on October 8, 2004


Even though it's ranked low, I like the flag for Provo -- it looks like it should be on an antacid bottle.
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:54 PM on October 8, 2004


The Second City . . . AGAIN!! We're so much more attractive than those vexillologists think we are. Damn you DC!! Your flag is but a malformed clone of ours!
posted by aladfar at 10:37 PM on October 8, 2004


Is that guy in Tuktovaktuk playing tennis in the snow? Or is he trying to conduct a non-existant orchestra? I knew we had tar sands, but, uhhh, I don't think they look great on a flag. At least the tennis conductor is wearing an appropriate jacket, but, uhhh, those pants don't look right. That and him stepping into tar sands. Yuck.

Man, we let these new territories make their own flags and they come up with that. Yikes.

BTW: Does anyone else think that Toronto's flag is depicting someone wearing a blue outfit, with an open fly, using a maple leaf to cover up the family jewels?
posted by shepd at 12:49 AM on October 9, 2004


Arlington's flag looks like a beer label. I lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years and never knew there was a city flag. In Denver, however, you can't miss the flag, as there is a little bitty flag emblazoned on every street sign in Denver proper. A lot of the Denver metro area cities have logos of the city on the street signs. Most of them are some sort of stylized version of the first letter in the city's name-- the rest are mystifying and random.
posted by Shoeburyness at 3:13 AM on October 9, 2004


Oops, I meant Lubbock's flag looks like a beer label. Arlington's looks like a corporate logo from the '70s.
posted by Shoeburyness at 3:17 AM on October 9, 2004


It was nice to see the Austin coat of arms again.

The Milwaukee flag is a little busy for a flag -- it might make a nice collage, but a flag's imagery ought to be simpler, more direct and powerful, I think.
posted by alumshubby at 5:57 AM on October 9, 2004


New York: Proud to be French!
posted by chrid at 6:59 AM on October 9, 2004


Errr I meant Freedom. Proud to be Freedom.
posted by chrid at 6:59 AM on October 9, 2004


aladfar: I think the Chicago flag's design is better than DC's; and in any case the rankings aren't really statistically stable or methodologically precise.

On the whole, though, it's very on the mark. The city seal on a blue b/g is almost always a bad idea -- you can't "read" them in use or from a distance.

P.S. Disclosure: I was formerly in the flag business.
posted by lathrop at 8:02 AM on October 9, 2004


That St. Louis flag is kind of cool. I guess I never noticed it before but I guess those ribbons are meant to symbolize the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers.


posted by psmealey at 8:40 AM on October 9, 2004


I've always been disappointed in Minneapolis:



1950's seventh-grade textbook, or Devo album cover logo? You decide.
posted by gimonca at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2004


What the hell? Since when does Seattle have a flag? I've never seen that design anywhere before. Where do they get these things from? And why does a city need a flag in the first place?
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:19 PM on October 9, 2004


Mars, that's what I said. I'd never seen it before either, and I lived and walked by the Municipal Building every day for 2.5 years.

It definitely looks like they redesigned it about the same time they redid the Seahawks' uniforms. Maybe the designer threw the flag in as a part of the deal.
posted by psmealey at 3:58 PM on October 9, 2004


Some of these (Glendale AZ, Pocatello) don't look like flags at all -- they're just logos that somebody printed on fabric and ran up a pole.

Anyway, there aren't many cities that actively use their flags. Chicago and DC are the only ones here I can remember ever seeing -- if New York used theirs, you *know* it would have come up in the whole anti-French movement. Instead, you'd be forgiven if you thought the NYC flag was the NYPD & FDNY emblems on a navy blue background.
posted by me3dia at 5:19 PM on October 9, 2004


I rather like the straightforward design of the Alameda flag, except for the weird blue-white inversion thing, although it's more common to see the yacht club's version than the official city flag.

The San Francisco flag looks perfectly lovely when flown adjascent to California's bear and star, which is one of my favorite flags.
posted by majick at 7:45 PM on October 9, 2004


Problem with the NYC flag shown here is that it's depicted with non web safe colors. It's not the blue, le blanc, le rouge as others have cited... it's blue, white and orange... you know, Knicks and Mets colors.
posted by psmealey at 8:08 PM on October 9, 2004


In your face Rapids City!

When I clicked the link, I knew Milwaukee would be near the bottom. The funny thing is, the city had a contest to redesign the flag a little while ago. One of the winning entries was the basic idea I had, but I think the city decided to stick with what it's got.
posted by drezdn at 5:01 PM on October 10, 2004


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