The city flag of Denver has a rich, unique history dating to 1926. Red mountain shapes capped with white symbolizing snow atop the mountain range with a blue sky and yellow sun make up this simple but striking flag.
Denver was founded as a mining town in November 1858, and despite its rough start, it has become a bustling mountain metropolis. That bright and colorful history is perfectly embodied in its attractive city flag.
Let’s take a closer look at this beautiful flag.
The capital of Colorado, Denver is located near the Rocky Mountains. Founded in 1858 as a mining town, the land once belonged to the Arapaho tribe under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
In the summer of 1858, gold was discovered in the area now known as Denver, but it was not as widely found as it was in many other gold rush communities such as in California. However, the city still attracted thousands of prospectors.
Originally named Denver City by General William Larimer, it was incorporated in 1861. In 1865, the “City” part of the name was removed, and Denver was declared the state capital.
It never did experience the success of many other mining communities founded around the same time, and the absence of the railroad as well as a war between the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes made it difficult to sustain residents.
Slowly, however, the city became home to diverse industries — such as manufacturing, bioscience, energy, agriculture, engineering and transportation — and grew into its current bustling state. The diversified economy paired with its breathtaking landscape in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains has made it a very desirable place to live.
The 2016 census indicates nearly 700,000 residents live in Denver, taking advantage of its proximity to the breathtaking Rockies. The University of Colorado and the University of Denver are both located in Denver, among many other colleges and universities. Denver is also home to the Denver Broncos football team and nicknamed the “Mile-High City,” due to its high altitude.
History of the flag
In the early 1920s, an organization called the Sons of the American Revolution ran a contest to design the city’s flag, offering $25 for the winner. The city of Denver’s council added another $25, making the prize a handsome $50. The Denver Art Commission judged the contest.
North High School student Margaret Overbeck entered her winning design into the contest and and claimed her money. In 1926, the city adopted the design as its official flag, and its high-contrast and eye-catching design have truly stood the test of time.
The yellow circle in the center of the flag is a symbol of both the sun and the gold that attracted so many in the early days to seek their fortune in the hills of Colorado. And while the gold rush failed to keep long-term settlers, the gold rush is a significant part of Denver’s history.
The yellow circle that represents the sun and gold is intentionally situated in the exact center of the flag. Its location is representative of Denver’s location within Colorado — at the center of the state.
The red coloring at the bottom of the flag represents the red clay in Colorado’s soil due to the volcanic material from thousands of years ago. The white zig zag line doubles as a representation of Colorado’s Native American roots as well as the snowy mountains — a familiar horizon for Denver residents and one of the main attractions for tourists to the area.
The blue at the top of the flag is representative of the city’s clear blue skies that can be experienced year-round. Visitors will see the flag proudly displayed across the city of Denver. It’s a gorgeous symbol for those who are proud to call Denver home.
The North American Vexillological Association is a U.S. and Canadian organization dedicated to the scholarly study of flags. In 2004, the group reviewed 150 American city flags and declared Denver’s the third best in the country.
The city flag of Denver, with its contrasting colors, rich history, and distinct look, is a great addition to any resident or flag lover’s collection.