The flag, which depicts a phoenix rising above the Latin phrase “oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra" (Gold in Peace, Iron in War) and the city’s name, was created sometime in the 1900s and later adopted as the official flag in 1940.
Ho-hum, to say the least.
According to a 2011 CityLab article, here’s the unofficial style guide for good flags:
1. Keep It Simple (The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory)
2. Use Meaningful Symbolism (The flag's images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes)
3. Use Basic Colors (Limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set)
4. No Lettering or Seals (Never use writing of any kind or an organization's seal)
5. Be Distinctive or Be Related (Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections)
Not all of the aforementioned rules need be followed; Oakland’s flag, for example, bears minimal text yet is still lovely. Alas, the same cannot be said for San Francisco’s waving travesty. While certainly not the ugliest (that honor that could go to Milwaukee’s flag that has a flag on it), the city’s official banner could use a renovation.
Here are just a few examples. Some designs riffed off the established rising phoenix theme.
Other redesigns created a new concept entirely.
- Vexillology San Francisco [Reddit]
- The Best and Worst of Official City Flags [CityLab]
- Chicago celebrates the 100th birthday of its iconic city flag [Curbed Chicago]