City Flag - sunday 2013-07-07 2002 last modified 2013-07-07 2002
Categories: Daily Grind
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Did you know the city of Los Angeles has a flag?

Did you know it looks like this?

There's just a little snippet of history on the design online, dating it to the 30's. The city population had nearly doubled in the preceding decade alone, some states still weren't yet states (Arizona), and the national economy was tanking fast. I'm not sure if any municipal flags preceded it, and it doesn't seem like much motivation went into its conception other than a deadline, the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the city's founding. There's nothing out there about who the designers were, how they were chosen, what they were going for. Posterity receives some bland explanations of color choice - farming was the industry given primacy, representing highlighted produce of olives, oranges, and grapes, which are also explicitly depicted within the city seal. The seal, one of the worst designs I've laid eyes on, was adopted in 1905 and attempts to represent at least nine different things at once - four of which themselves are already flags - and includes a bunch of what would be impossibly miniscule text on any life-sized flag and flagpole.

The seal itself could use a redesign, but I just want to tackle the flag today. It would be mildly improved by simply removing the seal, but then it would still sort of look like a kindergarten committee construction paper project. We've got another eighteen years until the 250th anniversary. Maybe we can come up with something better by then to adopt as representational instead of excessively literal. I'm no vexillologist, but if you've got a flag and nobody recognizes it - because nobody flies it (I need to look at city hall's flagpoles next time I'm downtown) - then it's about time for a new flag, no? And it's probably overly complex to manufacture something with so many colors and overly detailed flourishes; it must be at least feasible to print. Have you ever seen this flying in the real world, anywhere?

So let's talk about redesign. Put your MS Paint or Illustrator or construction paper skills to use and see if you can come up with something that better represents your city and is something you might actually consider sticking on your property. I came up with this:

L.A. flag mockup

I'll get to explaining it later if anybody's keenly interested; it would be kind of fun to hear what someone else thinks a flag "means" without first knowing the intent.

I wonder how hard it would be to actually get the flag changed.

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