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Indianapolis, Indiana (U.S.)

Marion County

Last modified: 2024-06-29 by rick wyatt
Keywords: indianapolis | indiana | marion county |
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[Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana] 2:3 image(s) by permission of David B. Martucci
image(s) from American City Flags, Raven 9-10 (2002-2003), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright.



See also:


Current Flag

Text and image(s) from American City Flags, Raven 9-10 (2002-2003), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright. Image(s) from American City Flags by permission of David B. Martucci.

Design

The flag of Indianapolis has a dark blue field with a white five-pointed star pointing upwards in the center. Around the star is a circular field in red. Surrounding the red field is a white ring, from which extend four white stripes from top to bottom and from hoist to fly, thus creating four equal quadrants in the field. The stripes are about one-seventh the width of the flag, with the white ring the same width as the stripes. The diameter of the red circle is about two-ninths the width of the flag.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Symbolism

The large white star represents the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a landmark in the city's center, as well as the status of Indianapolis as the state capital. The white circle and the red field within it depict the Monument Circle area of the city. The color red also signifies, according to the ordinance of adoption, the driving energy and urge for progress that has made the City of Indianapolis race ahead. The four white stripes, each at a ninety-degree angle to the circle, represent North and South Meridian Streets, vertically, and East and West Market Streets, horizontally. The four quadrants of dark blue symbolize the residential areas of the city. The colors of the flag—red, white, and blue, also the colors in the United States flag—symbolize the citizens' patriotism. The city flag assumed a new role as the de facto, though not de jure, symbol of Marion County on 1 January 1970, when the city and county merged their governments into "Unigov". Marion is the only one of Indiana's 92 counties to adopt this form of government.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Selection

A contest was held by the John Herron Art Institute in 1962.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Designer

The winner was Roger Gohl, a student at the Institute.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


History of the flag

History of Indianapolis' flag is posted at www.indystar.com/article/20121207/NEWS/212070361/History-Indianapolis-flag-yes-we-one-long-interesting (reproduced here to preserve it)

The city flag waves on a pole in front of the City County Building, Nov. 25, 2012. This year is the 50th anniversary of the city's flag.
(Rob Goebel/The Star)

With its intersecting lines representing Washington and Meridian streets, the flag is illustrative of Indianapolis' "Crossroads of America" status. And with its tight selection process -- the only ones to weigh in, back in 1962, were a handful of white males -- the flag is illustrative also of the top-down way the city used to do business. The flag is a thick, white cross over a blue background, the horizontal bar representing Washington, the vertical bar Meridian. At their intersection is a circle -- Monument Circle, duh -- and inside the circle a white star against a red background symbolizing Indianapolis as Indiana's capital city and commercial center.

Technically, Monument Circle is at Meridian and Market streets, not Meridian and Washington. Washington, the major east/west route known as U.S. 40, is actually a block south of Market. But flags aren't maps. "A flag should be highly stylized," said Ted Kaye, editor of the North American Vexillological Association's quarterly journal. "Good flag design incorporates simplicity and meaningful symbolism." So the designer of Indianapolis' flag doesn't get a pass for blurring Market and Washington streets, he gets plaudits for it.

In 1962, Roger E. Gohl was a thin, pompadour-wearing 18-year-old freshman at John Herron Art School. Gohl entered the flag-design competition, he recalled the other day from his home in Oxnard, Calif., "because I wanted the fifty bucks." That was the prize offered by Indianapolis' chamber of commerce for the winning design of a new city flag. Indianapolis already had a flag that had been adopted by the City Council in 1915. But that flag was "never unfurled for lack of interest," the Indianapolis Star reported the day it announced Gohl's new design. It was an overstatement, but not by much: The 1915 flag design lay dormant, wasn't even fabricated, until 1960, reported the vexillology journal, the "Flagwaver" (Vol. II, No. 1, Issue 3, June 1997) and was passé even at its unveiling, with its too-small-to-make-sense-of city seal and its eight hard-to-figure stars that represented such mundanities as the city clerk, the board of public works and so on -- a clerk is certainly vital to a municipality's workings, but a star?

On top of all that, the 1915 job featured an X design (the X's representing Virginia Avenue and other diagonal streets) that could possibly have been interpreted as a nod to the Confederate battle flag, an image at odds with the one growth-minded city burgers were promoting in '62 (at the burgeoning of the civil rights movement), when Gohl answered their call for a design possessing not just "simplicity" and "good visibility" but also "appropriateness." (For an unabashed homage to the rebel flag, see Montgomery, Ala.'s flag.)

Many U.S. cities and towns have flags (Fishers has one, so does Carmel). Some are better than others, some more widely exploited than others. In Indianapolis, which lacks a widely recognized icon -- no Statue of Liberty, like in New York; no arch, like in St. Louis; no Space Needle, like in Seattle; no Alamo, like in San Antonio, etc. -- a decent flag could be especially important in creating an identity. It isn't, though. Indianapolis' city flag is rarely seen, except on the doors of city-owned trucks. One flies at the City-County Building, in the courtyard on the building's south side. But the flag is unfamiliar to most city residents. It's a missed opportunity, said the vexillologist Kaye, who is retired from his job as chief financial officer at a small tech firm in Portland, Ore. "Cities can use their flag like a brand," Kaye said, "and citizens can rally around it."

Fans of the pro soccer team in Portland cheer on the Timbers by waving Portland city flags, Kaye said, "and Chicago has a tremendously evocative flag -- when a police officer there dies, his casket is covered in the Chicago flag, not the American flag. We've even seen Chicago flag tattoos." "A flag is identity, or can be," said Richard Beck. Beck, 83, is the last survivor of the three-member committee that chose Gohl's design from among some six dozen submissions. He was the art director at Eli Lilly and Co. and worked at the highest end of corporate/industrial design. He once collaborated with the photographer Richard Avedon. Beck's fellow committee members were Edward D. Pierre, the vaunted Indianapolis architect and all-around idea man (the Indiana State Library was his design and the "Circle of Lights" his idea) and Wilbur D. Peat, the painter, writer and director of Indianapolis' art museum. All three were men with sound senses of aesthetics, no doubt about it. But they were all men, and not only that, they were all white. "Back in the early 1960s (Indianapolis') leadership was very small at the top," said George Geib, a Butler University historian who has written about Indianapolis for decades. "Lilly, and the Lilly family, were at the center of most decisions."

Style-wise, too, much has changed since 1962, when Cadillacs had fins and tennis players wore all white. But great flag design is timeless, said Kaye. He noted the Stars and Stripes dates to the 18th century "and it holds up beautifully," as does France's much-respected tricolor, "an extremely powerful design." Indianapolis' Gohl-designed/ Beck-approved flag, with its simplicity (just three colors) and its meaningful symbolism, also holds up, Kaye said. And he's not the only one saying it: As recently as the 1990s, Jackson, Miss., adopted a city flag that almost had to have been cribbed from Indianapolis'; and in 2004, NAVA ranked Indianapolis' flag eighth best among the flags of the 150 major U.S. cities.

Gohl, who went on to have a big career as a designer for major corporations such as Hilton and Radisson, agrees his work as an 18-year-old still looks good. "I can't say I was surprised it was ranked eighth," he said, "and I'm not sure I'd not have ranked it higher." Beck pointed to the top-ranked city flag of Washington, D.C., and to fifth-ranked St. Louis'. "Ours is better," he declared (he took his hat off, however, to Chicago's).

"And I think our city flag should be celebrated. I'd like to see it more often, flying.
Ted Kaye, 8 December 2012

Original design

According to www.indystar.com/, the white lines on the original flag of Indianapolis were not centered. The change seems to have possibly happened after Roger Gohl, the flag's designer, left the city.
Daniel Rentería, 15 November 2022

[Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana] image located by Esteban Rivera, 16 November 2022

See also: photo located by Esteban Rivera, 16 November 2022

As mentioned by Daniel, it seems that the original flag design (or at least the contestant that participated and was selected) was originally an off-centered white cross over a blue field, with a red roundel inside featuring a five-pointed white star.

As per his own testimony, The flag didn't look quite right. Someone had centered the white lines — "behind my back," he said. "Unlike the flag's current symmetric cross design, Gohl's original design had the circle and vertical stripe offset to the left rather than being centered; he was unaware of the change until he returned to visit the city in 1969" (source: https://www.indystar.com/story/).

"In 1962, city leaders recognized the need for a modern flag. The Greater Indianapolis Information Committee sponsored a contest to create a new one, with a prize of $50 and lunch with Mayor Albert H. Losche for the winning entrant. A three-person selection committee was composed of Richard Beck, art director for Eli Lilly and Company; Pierre & Wright architect, Edward D. Pierre; and Wilbur D. Peat, painter, writer, and director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art."
(source: "The Indianapolis Star" (newspaper), December 8, 2012 Edition, Pag A1, located at: www.newspapers.com).

"The city flag assumed a new role as the de facto, though not de jure, symbol of Marion County on January 1, 1970, when the City of Indianapolis and Marion County merged their respective governments."
(source: "THE JOURNAL OF GREAT WATERS ASSOCIATION OF VEXILLOLOGY", June, 1997 Vol. II, No. 1, Issue 3, "GREAT WATERS CAPITAL CITIES: The Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana", located at:
https://gwav.tripod.com/issue_3.htm).

Additionally, the city's previous flag features the Seal although it is worth mentioning that "there have been three versions of an official flag for the city of Indianapolis. The city's first municipal flag was designed by city council member William Johnson in 1911 and approved by a commission appointed by Mayor Samuel "Lew" Shank. The flag's unveiling was scheduled for July 4, 1911; however, it was reported that no one attended the ceremony as most residents were elsewhere greeting President William Howard Taft who was visiting Indianapolis for the Independence Day holiday. Hence, the design was not adopted by the Common Council as the city’s official flag".
(sources: https://indyencyclopedia.org/seals-and-flags and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Indianapolis).

The city's previous flag description is as follows: "The flag's design appears to draw inspiration from the American flag. The design divided the flag vertically into two sections. The first section (two-fifths of the flag's length) displays a dark blue field overlaid by a white ring with four white diagonal spokes radiating toward each of the section's four corners, representing the city's four diagonal avenues from Alexander Ralston's 1821 Plat of the Town of Indianapolis (Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Virginia) meeting at Monument Circle. Eight white stars set in this section represent the city's four appointed boards (public works, public safety, health, and parks) and four elected officers (city clerk, controller, judge, and board of school commissioners). A large white star centered on the circle is overlaid by the city's corporate seal in gold, representing the mayor. Nine horizontal stripes occupy the remaining three-fifths of the flag, alternating red and white, representing each common council seat"
(source: "The Indianapolis Star" (newspaper), June 22, 1915 Edition, Page 6, located at: www.newspapers.com/newspage/118692837).

Furthermore, "According to municipal code, the four white stripes radiating from the center white circle represent the streets of Market and Meridian, which intersect with Monument Circle. However, in media accounts, the stripes are said to represent the intersection of Meridian and Washington streets (half a block south of Monument Circle), allegedly a nod to the city's official slogan of the Crossroads of America."
(source: https://library.municode.com)

"The flag proved unpopular, having never been fabricated until 1960. The design's shortcomings included a tiny city seal that was difficult to decipher, eight seemingly arbitrary stars, and a visual resemblance to variants of the Confederate battle flag" (source: "The Indianapolis Star" (newspaper), December 8, 2012 Edition, Pag A1, located at: www.newspapers.com/newspage/126352343).

The City Seal also has some distinctive features, being a black and white eagle facing right (heraldically speaking) whereas the former flag features the Seal facing left (heraldically speaking).

In fact, the City Council Seal is derived from the City Seal, having the same pattern, altering only the color (being light blue).

Esteban Rivera, 16 November 2022


Variant Flag

[Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana] image by Randy Young, 30 September 2015

I have seen modified versions on the back of municipal vehicles with words inscribed in the white circle reading "CITY OF / INDIANAPOLIS" in black.
JAK, 30 September 2015


1915-1963 Flag

[Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana] image by Rob Raeside, 21 August 2014

Gohl's design reworked the best elements of the city's first flag, adopted on 21 June 1915. Ironically, no flag of the 1915 version was made until 1960, when Mrs. Norma Gribler sewed one, just two years before a new flag was adopted. The earlier flag, designed by Harry B. Dynes, a city resident, is divided vertically into two sections, the first of which is two-fifths of the flag's length. On a blue field is depicted a white circle, about 3/18ths the width of the section, with four spokes radiating diagonally to each of the four corners of the section, thus forming four quadrants. In the top and bottom quadrants, there are two large white stars, one superimposed vertically over the other in the quadrant's center. In the hoist and fly quadrants, the stars are placed similarly, but smaller and farther apart so that there is a star at each of the spokes' intersections. One large white star, also on a blue field, is in the center of the inner circle; superimposed on it is the corporate seal of the city in gold. Nine alternating red and white horizontal stripes occupy the remaining three-fifths of the flag.

The white circle in the blue field represented the city's center, Monument Place (now called Monument Circle), and the four diagonal spokes represented the four major avenues radiating from the Circle: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Virginia. The large white star symbolized the city's mayor, whose power was denoted by the corporate seal. The four large stars in the top and bottom quadrants stood for the city clerk, city controller, city police judge, and the school board; the four smaller stars represented the board of public works, board of safety, board of health, and park board. Lastly, the nine stripes symbolized the nine city councilmen.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Detail of Seal

[Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana] image by Rob Raeside, 21 August 2014


Bicentennial Logo

[Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana] image located by Esteban Rivera, 16 November 2022

"Inspired by the 1962 flag design competition, the city held a contest to select a design for the city's 2020–2021 bicentennial logo, the deadline to submit proposals was September 1, 2019". (source:
https://fox59.com/news/indianapolis-flag-inspiring-city-officials-to-host-competition-for-bicentennial).

"The selected design was influenced by the flag's features. Indianapolis-based designer Mandy Walsh has been named the winner of the Bicentennial Commission’s art and design contest. Walsh’s logo, selected from a pool of over 100 submissions, will be the “central icon” for the city’s year-long bicentennial celebration and appear on posters and t-shirts to promote bicentennial events.

Walsh, who won $5,000 for her design, previously served as a graphic designer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Indianapolis Bicentennial will span from June 2020 through May 2021." (source:
www.insideindianabusiness.com/articles/bicentennial-design-contest-winner-named)

However, no bicentennial flag has been reported yet.

Esteban Rivera, 16 November 2022


Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

[Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana] image located by Paul Bassinson, 12 March 2021

The flag of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department appears to simply consist of their seal on a solid blue background. Image obtained from https://www.facebook.com/IMPDNews/photos/2925624637488748
Paul Bassinson
, 12 March 2021


Indianapolis Fire Department

[Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana] image located by Paul Bassinson, 15 March 2021

The flag of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department appears to white with their seal centered. Image obtained from https://www.facebook.com/indianapolisfiredepartment/photos/3974706972547800 
Paul Bassinson
, 15 March 2021


Fountain Square

[Fountain Square, Indiana flag] image by David Sigley, 17 June 2024

The flag according to the Fountain Springs Neighborhood Association was designed by a resident, and was most adopted recently by the neighborhood association, as it is purchasable on their website, which also shows the drawing: https://fountain-square-neighborhood-association.square.site
Source for information: https://www.facebook.com/FountainSquareNeighborhood/

The flag is a white field with a border with a abstract color scheme, with the colors of black, blue, gold, and orange. In the center is the neighborhood name with the name in the same abstract format. This is due to Fountain Square's retro style architecture and vibrancy that is felt.
David Sigley, 17 June 2024


 
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