State Flag of Kentucky – The Bluegrass State

Kentucky (USA) flag waving on the wind

Each state in the United States of America has many symbols that were adopted as the state established itself and the residents gained pride in their home. Every resident may not be familiar with their state’s flower or the state bird, but the state flag inspires a kind of pride that inhabits long-time residents and recent transplants. Kentucky is no exception, with a proud banner that flies over thousands of homes and buildings across the Bluegrass State. Continue reading

Chicago Flag: A Fascinating City’s History on Display

Chicago city flags waving

Nothing symbolizes pride quite like a flag. Every American smiles to see our nation’s banner flying in front of a house or a school. Sports fans spot their fellow fanatics by the banners in windows and yards.

There is a flag for everyone—flags for causes, countries, and even cities. One of the oldest city flags in the United States is in the City of Chicago. The Chicago flag is a rich example of everything a flag should be—exemplifying the history and pride a city’s residents feel regarding their home. Continue reading

Texas State Flag Spotlight

Texas state flag decorWhile all state flags have interesting histories, few states have a flag story as remarkable as that of Texas. The Lone Star State is one of the only states in America that had to fight for its right to fly its flag, as well as its independence from Mexico. The history and design of the Texas state flag are just as unique and patriotic as the people it represents.

History of the Texas Flag

Throughout history, Texas has flown seven flags, and six of these were national flags, which signified who ruled the state at the time. These include the French, Spanish, Mexican, Confederate, American and the Republic of Texas flags. Even today, Texans flies all six of these flags in public and private displays of patriotism. Continue reading

Maryland State Flag Spotlight

Maryland state flag graphicThe tradition of state flags had begun before states were even states. The colonies used them as a rallying point for groups of militia, and they have been a symbol of state pride ever since. Maryland has one of the most unusual state flags. It stands out from the mostly blue banners of other states and, since Maryland was one of the original colonies, it has a long and rich history represented in its colors. Continue reading

State Flag Spotlight: Montana

Montana state flag

American states and territories have been adopting flags since the first colonization, with official flags appearing as early as the 1860s. The trend was more popular in the 1890s and, by World War I, most states proudly flew their flag just below the country’s banner. Most states have since tweaked their original designs – Utah just adopted a new design in 2011. The state flag of Montana has remained unchanged for years and contains a wealth of information about the state in its imagery. Continue reading

State Spotlight: California

Golden Gate Bridge

For most of its history, California has been a dream that people chase looking for an opportunity at a new life in one form or another.  People came to the territory of California in a push for freedom and expansion, then for gold, and finally fame. Today, California offers vast opportunities for those seeking a new start and different dreams for people to follow.  But, first, it started with a flag, a group of people looking for a change, and the dream of new land. Continue reading

State Flag Spotlight: The Florida State Flag

florida flag divider The Florida state flag

The State Flag of Florida

  • 27th state to join the United States of America
  • Nickname: “The Sunshine State”
  • Capital: Tallahassee

The state flag of Florida consists of three major elements: the white background (or field in vexillology terms), the intersecting red bars, and the state seal. The white background with the crossing red bars is almost identical to the state flag of Florida’s neighbor to the northwest, the state of Alabama, except a small variation on the exact hue of red used.

Added in 1900, the red bars harkened back to the southern cross pattern that appeared on the flag used by the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. It is interesting to note that, as well as the southern cross, the red cross pattern is very similar to the flag of the Spanish empire which consisted of the original Europeans to inhabit what we know today as Florida.

This flag was originally the flag of the Duke of Burgundy, whose family eventually ended inheriting the Spanish empire. The flag was made up of a white field with two intersecting jagged red bars running from corner to corner in an X shape. Before 1900, and after 1868, the flag was made up of the state seal in the center of the white field of the flag.

The Floridian State Seal serves as a very complex and interesting focal point of the flag. On August 6, 1868, due to the requirements of the state’s newly adopted constitution, a resolution was passed dictating “That a Seal of the size of the American silver dollar, having in the center thereof a view of the sun’s rays over a high land in the distance, a cocoa tree, a steamboat on water, and an Indian female scattering flowers in the foreground, encircled by the words, ‘Great Seal of the State of Florida: In God We Trust’, be and the same is hereby adopted as the Great Seal of the State of Florida.”

In the year 1970, over a century since the original seal was designed and adopted by the government of the state of Florida, a small, and some would say, minor change was made to the official resolution describing the flag, which changed the “cocoa tree” to a “Sabal palmetto palm” tree.

In 2006 the phrase “In God We Trust,” which graces the banner at the bottom of the original seal and would later be moved to the bottom half of a banner encircling the modern seal, was adopted by the state of Florida as its official motto. After a few different variations in art style and overall design of the seal, as well as the correction of what were viewed as historical errors in the seal, the current version of the seal, the one that is now located at the center of Florida’s official state flag, was adopted in 1985.

florida flag sealDissecting the Meaning Behind the Seal

  • The woman on the seal is a member of the Seminole native American tribe who inhabited parts of the state before the Europeans began to settle the area.
  • The tree is a sable palm tree, which is the state tree.
  • The woman is dropping flowers which represent Florida’s name, referencing its abundance of flowers.
  • The rising sun is a representation of Florida’s being famously known as “the land of sunshine.”
  • The water is supposed to be the meeting of the lakes and rivers scattered throughout the state.
  • The steamboat appears to be an homage to Florida’s booming industry and trade that helped build the state.

 

Changes in the Sealmodern florida flag seal

  • The native American woman originally in the seal was wearing clothing from the Plains Indian tribes.
  • The tree from the first seal was changed from a cocoa tree to a sable palm tree.
  • The first seal had a banner reading “In God We Trust” across the bottom. This was then removed and replaced with a banner encircling the seal reading “Great Seal
    of the State of Florida” across the top and “In God We Trust” at the bottom .
  • The art style has also changed, from a very realistic painting, to a simpler version of the scene, to the current and more abstract art style the seal has now.

 

City Flags of Note – And Why You Should Note Them

Just like countries, many cities across the world sport flags. Some of these are resplendent banners that portray an aspect of their city with dignity and clarity. Some of these are dreadful errors. A few examples of intriguing city flags follow.

We’ll start with some of the better ones, in no particular order.

Buffalo, New York

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Now that’s a flag! Stars you can see on any number of flags, but lightning bolts are awesome. Throw in a pleasant old-style ship and lighthouse on the seal, and everyone in Buffalo has more to be proud of than just wings.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

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Any flag with an animal on it is automatically pretty good. An animal that is also a giant whale is automatically even better, even if it is representing the city’s former reliance on the whaling industry. Clearly this whale is so over that, you guys. Look at his happy smile. Plus, the nonstandard flag shape demonstrates that Nantucket doesn’t feel they need to conform to The Man’s old-fashioned dependence on rectangles.

Jacksonville, Florida

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Ordinarily, words on flags are a big design flaw, but Jacksonville makes up for it by the completely awesome Andrew Jackson on horseback in front of the rising sun. The colors are great, and very evocative of Florida, so we’ll give the “you are here” branding a pass. You do you, Jacksonville.

Baltimore, Maryland

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Check that out. A great combination of colors in a fantastic pattern (the coat of arms of Baron Baltimore) with a blazon of the Battle Monument in the center. One hundred percent class; Baltimore doesn’t have to prove anything to any of you.

Easton, Pennsylvania

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Fantastic! An inversion of the Stars and Stripes, this flag supposedly dates back to 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was read aloud in Easton on July 8th. It may be one of the early designs of the United States flag, although it has been pointed out that those designs at the time generally had fifteen stripes and stars. Also, eight-pointed stars instead of the more common five. Still, it’s a great design.

Richmond, Virginia

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Good use of the red, white, and blue; nice circle of stars; dramatic silhouette of a man poling a bateau down the James River. Simple and effective. Everyone is happy.

Wichita, Kansas

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Simple and symbolic: The blue circle represents happiness and contentment, with the Hogan symbol in the center representing a permanent home. The red and white rays alternating represent the freedom to come and go as you please, reflective of Wichita’s status as the Air Capital of the World. You didn’t know that? The city hosts several aircraft design and production facilities.

St. Louis, Missouri

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Strikingly different from most flags with its wavy lines (representing the joining of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers) and bold red field, plus an attractive fleur-di-lis representing the state’s French heritage. Simple and effective, like a flag ought to be. St. Louis could be giving lessons to some of the following cities.

Bridgeport, Connecticut

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This is pretty nearly the laziest possible design for a flag. You already have a seal, so just throw it on a background. Done. Oh, wait, put the name of the city on there. Yes, it’s already on the seal, but trust us, no one who sees a seal on a flag is going to look at it even a little bit. May as well use some of that vast expanse of blue for something. Stitch on the name of the state, too, and you can ensure that schoolchildren who come visit the city council buildings on their field trips will be too dazed to run around and shriek at everything.

Gainesville, Florida

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All right, we apologize. This is the laziest possible design. It’s even a white flag, so as little effort went into this as could be. Sorry, Bridgeport, we were lashing out.

At least it’s a pretty neat train?

Tampa, Florida

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The other approach isn’t always successful, either. Clearly the Tampa Flag Commission made an effort, but after what we’re guessing were twenty-two months of debate and discussion and “donations,” they would up with this extremely busy banner.

We like the fact that it’s not rectangular … always nice, but so many colors! So many little strips of color! Stars on stripes! A seal managing to somehow break up any bit of flair the flag itself might have eked out!

Let’s see what they tried to evoke with the symbolism: hmm, well … designed by one F. Grant Whitney, so, no committee … okay, includes an “H” and a “T” for Hillsborough County and Tampa, respectively; nothing about a “K”―although there is clearly one there if we’re playing that game.

Colors and elements are derived from the various countries that helped settle and establish the area: United States (red, white, blue, stars, stripes); United Kingdom (um, red, white, blue, stars, stripes―but angled ones this time); France (red, white … some kind of pattern seems to be developing … blue); Spain (gold, red, vertical stripes); and Italy (red, white, green). Very inclusionary, Mr. Whitney, but … ugh.

Detroit, Michigan

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We feel a little bad for picking on Detroit, here, because―again―so much effort clearly went into it. Maybe too much effort. Four quadrants, all with their own device, plus a seal in the center. Well, let’s sort it out.

The seal is actually a pretty nice one, representing the city’s nearly complete destruction in the fire of 1805, with the Latin inscriptions “Spearamus Meliora,” meaning “We Hope for Better Things,” and “Resurget Cineribus,” meaning “It Will Rise From the Ashes.” The figure on the left is weeping over the devastation, while the one on the right is gesturing to the rebuilt city. Powerful and meaningful, and apparently the seal was redesigned in 2000 to be less busy, so they were trying, we will give them that.

The quadrants are for France (lower-left corner), England (upper-right corner), and the United States (upper-left and lower-right), all representing countries that controlled the fort that became Detroit in the past. A good sentiment, but more a coat of arms than a flag, really.

We’re feeling generous after breaking it down; feel free to copy and paste this section back into the top part under the better examples. But, let that be a lesson to future city flag designers: If you need to have a guide explain each part of your flag to onlookers, you might want to pare it down a bit.