An artist’s plea for Pittsburgh to redesign its city flag | Opinion | Pittsburgh

An artist’s plea for Pittsburgh to redesign its city flag | Opinion | Pittsburgh

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Tell me what the flag of Pittsburgh looks like. Can’t do it?If you are lucky, you possible Remember, it’s black and gold. I doubt anyone reading this will redraw it from memory because it’s so easy to forget. I want a flag that speaks to us that Pittsburghians will proudly fly outside their homes.

Time to redesign Pittsburgh’s official flag.

A city’s flag should represent and unite its people, and our current poorly designed flags just don’t do that. In 2004, the North American Association of Banner Science, which is dedicated to the scholarly study of flags, rated 150 U.S. city flags. Since then, more than 20 cities included in the study have redesigned their flags, and at least five more are considering updates. In my opinion, we should do the same.

Click to enlarge Official flag of the city of Pittsburgh

Official flag of the city of Pittsburgh

While Pittsburgh is 24th in the Vexillological Association test with a B- rating, I think we can do better. Looking at the city flag adopted in 1899, it’s hard to know what it all symbolized. The flag bears “The Coat of Arms of the City of Pittsburgh,” including William Pitt’s coat of arms and a three-towered castle, overlaid on a black and gold tricolor.

A castle that symbolizes a city is not just literal, it’s too old. Coat of arms also has an interesting history as a poor depiction. Its decorative shield shape contains a blue and white plaid (the colour of the uniforms worn by William Pitt’s family in Parliament) and three golden eagles. However, the Eagle was not in the original design. In 1845, the Great Fire of Pittsburgh destroyed all of the seal’s documentation, and draftsmen had to redraw the seal based on the memories of the city’s residents. The original “bezants”, the Byzantine gold coins that symbolized honesty, instead became eagles inside a gold circle.

The coat of arms of the Great Seal, the central feature of this logo, makes it a poor design. Although the symbol is used throughout the city, police cars, uniforms, and the University of Pittsburgh logo, most people cannot read the heraldic symbol, nor recreate or identify it.

But what is good logo design? Fortunately, the North American Vexillological Association has five principles to follow, and I use them to judge Pittsburgh design.

1. Keep it simple: The flag should be simple enough that a child can draw it from memory.
of course not. As an adult, I can barely draw the flag. The decorative shapes of the coat of arms are particularly difficult to draw.

2. Use meaningful symbolism: The image, color or pattern of the flag should be relevant to what it symbolizes.
yes. While black and gold don’t necessarily have any symbolic meaning, they are easily recognizable as the colors of the city. I can also easily imagine that these colors are symbols of the steel and mining industries.

3. Use 2 or 3 basic colors: Limit the number of colors on the flag to three that contrast well and come from a standard color set.
Yes, this rule is also followed. The black and gold of the triband is very recognizable and is probably the only thing that fits the flag right now. We use these colors for all sports teams in Pittsburgh. This gives them authenticity, like the “Berg” colors.

4. No lettering or stamps: Never use any type of writing or stamps of the organization.
This rule is blatantly violated. We define ourselves by our sports teams, our geography, and our history as steel producers, not as British prime ministers and soldiers who built forts on Iroquois and Shawnee territory. This may have been the way Pittsburgh defined themselves at one point, but it feels outdated now.

5. Different or related: Avoid repeating other signs, but use similarity to show connection.
yes and no. The black and gold colors of the flag are distinctive. I can’t think of any other cities or flags that use these two colors. But there must be a dozen other cities with some stripes on their coat of arms.

Under this set of rules, Pittsburgh can only do so if you judge it by its flag’s black and gold stripes. And I believe you can also tell it by how often you see it displayed. Look around the city and it’s hard to find a Pittsburgh flag; you’re more likely to find one for the Steelers, Penguins or Buccaneers.

Now, you might be thinking, there are more important things to do than update our city logos. But if you have a great city flag, you have an icon that brings people together to do these important things. A great city flag reinforces the city’s positivity and pride of unity.

Take a look at the city of Chicago, which has an awesome city flag that is often used as a standard for philology. Many officers or firefighters who died fighting in Chicago will have the Chicago flag on the casket, not the American flag. Public institutions like the Chicago Museum even use flag elements and incorporate them into their branding. It became a symbol that everyone could identify with, eliciting loyalty and trust in the city and local government.

Take a look at some of the cities that have redesigned their city flags since a 2004 study by the Botanical Society of North America:

Montpellier, Vermont Redesigned by Chet Larrow

Click to enlarge Pittsburgh flag web2.jpg

Milwaukee, Wisconsin redesigned by Robert Lentz

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Dayton, oh.multiple attribution

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Now, these are the flags you want to fly.

As a designer, this wouldn’t be complete without my own two suggestions for Pittsburgh’s new flag. I wanted to be thoughtful and not change the flag too much, landing these two designs:

Click to enlarge Pittsburgh flag web5.jpg

For my first design, I simply took out Pete’s stamp and introduced some white stripes. White symbolizes the purity or cleanliness of Pittsburgh’s growing clean energy and technology industries. White can also symbolize the name and history of Steel and Pittsburgh as the “City of Steel”.

In my second design, I used gold to recreate the three rivers that define the center of the city. It can be said that these “rivers of gold” symbolize the wealth of the city. The blue and white stripes at the top and bottom of the flag are the colors of William Pitt, who founded the city (he can nod, but he doesn’t need the entire flag around him). But as a bonus, blue can also symbolize water or technology and wisdom. The golden intersection above the blue refers to Pittsburgh as the “City of Bridges.”

Now I challenge you to imagine a new city flag. What do you think of Pittsburgh? Which flag design would you like to fly with pride?



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