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New Mexico has the coolest flag.
June 21, 2001 8:33 AM   Subscribe

New Mexico has the coolest flag. The North American Vexillological Association surveyed its members and the public to identify the best and the worst state and provincial flags. The New Mexico state flag came out on top. Georgia's brought up the rear. [Link via Alex Beam's column in the Boston Globe.]
posted by idiolect (48 comments total)

 
Flippity FLAP!
posted by daveadams at 8:41 AM on June 21, 2001


Maryland has the fourth-best flag? The hell, I say!
posted by redfoxtail at 8:44 AM on June 21, 2001


Wow! And I didn't even know states had flags (gimme a break, I'm Irish ;-).

Got to say though, there are some really duff ones in the worst flags section. Wisconsin's my favourite with the action figures. And who designed Maryland's -- Timothy Leary?

Still, Ireland probably wins the prize for National Flag with Most Misplaced Optimism: the green, white and orange is supposed to symbolise the peace between the two communities.
posted by flimjam at 8:44 AM on June 21, 2001


Sweet! SC at 10. Should be higher, of course, but happy to get some recognition.
posted by claxton6 at 8:47 AM on June 21, 2001


I have to agree, though, state seals are the biggest cop-out for flag design after actually putting the name of the state on the flag (ack ack ack!!). And Georgia's is just ridiculous.
posted by daveadams at 8:50 AM on June 21, 2001


Michigan is 59th. Oof. But we're adding the word 'Michigan' to the flag so that it will be more identifiable. That way Michigan can go from flippity-flap to Flippity FLAP!

Note: this was typed before Dave derided both the old Michigan flag and the modified one.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:52 AM on June 21, 2001


Although considering the fact that Wisconsin and Kansas are at the bottom of the flagpole, so to speak, I guess Michigan will actually go from flippity-flap to ack ack ack!!
posted by iceberg273 at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2001


New Mexico's is cool, though the layout is a blatant rip-off of the (extremely cool) Swiss flag.
posted by holgate at 8:56 AM on June 21, 2001


New Mexico's is cool, though the layout is a blatant rip-off of the (extremely cool) Swiss flag.

What, centering something?
posted by redfoxtail at 9:00 AM on June 21, 2001


Why won't anyone rip off Nepal's flag? I think that's pretty neat.
posted by norm at 9:04 AM on June 21, 2001


I like Libya's flag. I've always thought of flags as things that are connected with war, and a green flag seems kind of neat flying from a tank or jeep or similar. (Seriously, I think it would look good - this isn't some kind of ironic thing - compare it to how silly the union jack would look)
posted by andrew cooke at 9:30 AM on June 21, 2001


Georgia's flag looks like the label from a bottle of Hornsby's.
posted by tolkhan at 9:48 AM on June 21, 2001


God forbid a flag actually symbolize something. Find a Wisconsin or Michigan flag, look at it closely. There's history there. The public's approval of simple, bland designs is nothing more than a side-effect of pop culture: Make my advertisements quick, dammit!
posted by mrbula at 9:49 AM on June 21, 2001


Maryland: kickin' ass @ #4. Take that you big states... (although Texas being #2 has to be a rig)
posted by owillis at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2001


> Find a Wisconsin or Michigan flag, look at it closely.
> There's history there.

You don't look closely at flags; you look at them from a distance; that's why the state-seal-on-a-bedsheet flags blow. It's obvious that the winners were designed by real designers and the losers were designed by state bureaucrats recycling old state seals because that's the safe, cheap way to do things.
posted by pracowity at 10:03 AM on June 21, 2001


The voters seemed to have something against the color blue (sure they said it was the use of seals on flags, and some blue flags made it into the winning column) but there seems to be vast conspiracy against blue.

I have to side with mrbulu, every little thing on the losing flags means something. On the Wisconsin one the action figures are a sailor and a miner, two of the major groups that settled early WI...

I bet if they voted on the US flag, they would have decided it was "Too Busy" and ranked it poorly.
posted by drezdn at 10:10 AM on June 21, 2001


I rather like Indiana's flag... no personal attachments to the state itself, just the flag looks kinda neat. Nationwide, I'd say Nepal has a kick-butt flag just because it's the only uniquely shaped flag I've ever really seen.
posted by prototype_octavius at 10:12 AM on June 21, 2001


Alaska's flag made it up there and it was picked in a flag-designing contest! That says something about the originality of at least one top flag. Anybody know anything about the others?
posted by prototype_octavius at 10:15 AM on June 21, 2001


Find a Wisconsin or Michigan flag, look at it closely. There's history there.

True, but the history is embodied in the state seal, which is a totally separate symbol of the state from the flag. Using the seal as the flag is a cop-out of designing an interesting flag, which, as pracowity pointed out, is to be viewed from afar. Seals are to be used on stationery and as an inset in the foyer of large government buildings.
posted by daveadams at 10:41 AM on June 21, 2001


I like the trend for the 10 worst. Blue with a seal/circle in the middle. I really don't see much difference between the 10 worst and my state's flag.
posted by howa2396 at 10:42 AM on June 21, 2001


History or not, it doesn't matter what you put on a flag if it's not recognizable from a distance, or memorable after any span of time. Seals were meant to be seen on documents -- hence their intricate, and symbol laden design. Flags were meant for hilltops (and fast moving tanks)... so simple is better.

Also, I've got to say that I'm stoked that Maryland's (I've never been there... not even to an airport) flag made it to number four: I've seen it waving in the wind before, and it's a bold and memorable design. Same goes with Arizona. I've never seen DC's flag, but I bet it's a good one when flown, too.

As for me, I've always like Cascadia's flag.

: )
posted by silusGROK at 10:44 AM on June 21, 2001


It is not known who actually designed Texas' Lone Star flag. It was the second official flag of the Republic of Texas, the first being a gold star on a blue background. The Lone Star was introduced into the Texas Congress in 1838 and approved in 1839. It is possible, but not certain, that the designer was the Senator who introduced the bill, William H. Warton.

More here.

Personally, my favorite historical Texas flag is the Come and Take It flag.
posted by jammer at 10:45 AM on June 21, 2001


Ah man... Dave beat me to it. Serves me right for taking so long to post... but I just had to find that link!
posted by silusGROK at 10:46 AM on June 21, 2001


While I fully supported Georgia changing the flag, why oh why did they have to switch to something so incredibly ugly! Heck why didn't they just switch back to the pre-1956 design? (It was the one that flew most in Atlanta anyway since the Olympics came to town.)
posted by trox at 10:54 AM on June 21, 2001


While I fully supported Georgia changing the flag, why oh why did they have to switch to something so incredibly ugly! Heck why didn't they just switch back to the pre-1956 design? (It was the one that flew most in Atlanta anyway since the Olympics came to town.)
posted by trox at 10:54 AM on June 21, 2001


Wow. The Bhutan flag really kicks ass. I want one of those.
posted by Hjorth at 10:59 AM on June 21, 2001


Given how many states use the seal on their flag, this organization was just asking for trouble by setting their fourth rule to be "No seals." Shouldn't vexiollogy (or whatever), a largely historical enterprise from my point of view, evaluate flags in terms of the emerging standards? What good is it to assert "No seals" by fiat?
posted by rschram at 11:02 AM on June 21, 2001


What good is it to assert "No seals" by fiat?

To be sure and eliminate the ugly flags. ;)
posted by daveadams at 11:25 AM on June 21, 2001


Curiously, there are movements afoot in both Texas and New Mexico to revamp their flags. Focus groups and surveys have shown that citizens like the basic designs of their flags, but they wish it was more clear what state the flag represented and perhaps that the flags were more educational in nature. Here are the current flags up for consideration. I think they're a big improvement. (The first flag is New Mexico and the second is Texas.)

The new New Mexico flag?

The new Texas flag?
posted by daveadams at 11:42 AM on June 21, 2001


South Carolina IMO has the best flag in the country.
posted by stbalbach at 11:46 AM on June 21, 2001


I always confuse the Texas flag with the Peurto Rican flag. That's sure to tick off some good ol' boys from the Lone Star state.
posted by msacheson at 11:49 AM on June 21, 2001


How the heck did Maryland place so high? That flag looks terrible- sort of Nascar meets the House of Lords. I can't imagine a child being able to draw that from memory...

I love the South Carolina one- it looks like a Corona commercial.
posted by hincandenza at 12:07 PM on June 21, 2001



thank you, thank you. new mexico does have a rather rad flag, and as a lifelong resident i... yeah, i don't know. but the zia does have historical symbolism -- it's a native american sign for the sun (if i'm remembering my 7th grade new mexico history correctly.)

now i'm going to go wait at the airport for val kilmer or ted turner to walk by. heh.
posted by sugarfish at 12:08 PM on June 21, 2001


I've always liked Ohio's, because it's not that boring rectangular shape.
posted by kindall at 12:18 PM on June 21, 2001


I've always thought that this would be a great flag for Michigan:



The four great lakes the border Michigan and the associated waterways outline the state's 2 penninsulas.

I also think that the design would be Great for the State quarter. 'Cause in Michigan, you are never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake.

Here's the pledge to the flag:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of Michigan, and to the state for which it stands, 2 beautiful peninsulas united by a bridge of steel, where equal opportunity and justice to all is our ideal.

There's more support for this flag. The name "Michigan" is derived from a Native word for Great Lake.

This would be another suggestion, but it only makes sense if you use your hands to make a map of your state. As we do in Michigan (the blue things are stylized hands.)



Of course, they're not going to change the flag just 'cause I said so.
posted by iceberg273 at 1:12 PM on June 21, 2001


Interesting factoid about Missouri's flag: the two bears were originally badly drawn lions.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:24 PM on June 21, 2001


the two bears were originally badly drawn lions

Ohhh, I get it. Now they're badly drawn bears. Cool.
posted by daveadams at 2:02 PM on June 21, 2001


Though I haven't even heard his music, even I thought of this guy. Where are all the indie rock nerds to make amusing commentary, are you going to settle for this lame reference?
posted by Octaviuz at 2:56 PM on June 21, 2001


It's obvious that the winners were designed by real designers and the losers were designed by state bureaucrats recycling old state seals because that's the safe, cheap way to do things.

Except for Maryland's flag, which is just horrid..
posted by valerie at 9:06 PM on June 21, 2001


Hey, screw all you people who don't like Maryland's flag. :)
posted by owillis at 9:27 PM on June 21, 2001


Maryland's flag is bold and memorable... it may also be horrid (I personally love it), but that's beside the point: it does a very good job for what flags are supposed to do... stake a claim, both in the mind and on the ground.
posted by silusGROK at 9:39 AM on June 22, 2001


Is Maryland's flag supposed to be symbolic of something? I might cut them some slack if it were, but I can't imagine what it's intended to be symbolic of.
posted by kindall at 10:27 AM on June 22, 2001


The Maryland flag is clearly symbolic of an unholy marriage between Valvoline and Langton's Ant.
posted by rodii at 11:18 AM on June 22, 2001


Sheesh, two seconds on Google and you can find this about the Maryland flag.

It's a cross between the coats of arms of the Calvert and Crossland families. Lord Baltimore (ring a bell?) was a Calvert.
posted by briank at 11:23 AM on June 22, 2001


It's funny. New Mexico has always been my favorite state flag, followed by Alaska and South Carolina. Guess I just don't like letters on flags. My own home state of North Carolina has a rather boring flag.
posted by dr. zoidberg at 1:09 PM on June 22, 2001


Just out of curiosity, what state do you think has the best license plate? I would imagine that most folks know more about state license plates than state flags. . .
posted by dr. zoidberg at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2001


Oh... I really like the Arizona license plate (with the cactus in the sunset).
posted by silusGROK at 3:51 PM on June 22, 2001


anyone have black license plates? that would be cool.

Marylands flag is nice when you see it as a real flag.
posted by stbalbach at 2:38 PM on June 25, 2001


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