City Flags

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 15, 2015









Roman Mars recently gave a TED talk, Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed. Mr. Mars is the voice behind 99 percent invisible, a podcast about design. It is a magic moment when you see the face saying “This is 99% Invisible. I’m Roman Mars.”

You might wonder why a city would have a flag. It is a handy symbol for countries, especially during a war. States seem to all have them. Many cities do have flags, although they are not always displayed. In the case of Pocatello ID, this is an act of mercy.

The North American Vexillological Association has five principles of flag design. 1. Keep it simple 2. Use meaningful symbolism 3. Use two to three basic colors 4. No lettering or seals of any kind. 5. Be distinctive. Chicago, Denver, and Portland follow these guidelines and succeed.

One of the bad examples cited in the talk is San Francisco. They have a poorly drawn phoenix, over a ribbon. The ribbon has a saying in a language other than english. The words SAN FRANCISCO are displayed in big, ugly letters at the bottom. Most San Francisco residents instinctively understand why those letters are bottoms.

Another city with a phoenix flag is Atlanta. This unfortunate item is what “Vexillologists call … SOBs: seals on a bedsheet.” The seal of the city is installed in the middle of a blue bedsheet. The Atlanta city flag is seldom displayed. Many residents are unaware of its existence.

“Made from durable nylon, our authentic Atlanta flags are constructed to official specifications and available in assorted popular sizes. Each flag has two heavy duty grommets for easy display, though we also offer an optional pole sleeve and gold fringe for indoor display. These flags are “made-to-order” right here in America, so please allow about 10 days for your order to ship.”

The subject of government flags is controversial in Georgia. Up until a few years ago, the state flag had the St. Andrews Cross. To the right was a blue strip, impaled upon the state seal. This flag was an aesthetic disaster, with the state seal Frankenstein stitched onto the stars and bars. This flag violated what might be rule six of flag design: Do not offend a significant portion of the state population with a symbol. The good news is that the Georgia flag has been changed. The state seal remains.

Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.








One Response

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  1. G-d Is In The Details | Chamblee54 said, on October 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    […] say that design was 99% invisible? I am looking for a source, and google is not helping.” Mr. Mars is the voice of 99pi, and the father of their star advertising voice over. (The notoriously unreliable brainyquote quotes […]

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