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Rochester, New York (U.S.)

Monroe County

Last modified: 2021-08-21 by rick wyatt
Keywords: new york | rochester | waterwheel | monroe county | fire department |
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[Flag of Town of Rochester, New York] 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

According to the ordinance of adoption:

The flag presented to the City of Rochester by The Rochester Historical Society, June 21st, 1934, is hereby designated as the official flag of the City of Rochester, having the following description: Said flag to be of three colors, arranged in perpendicular bars of equal width, federal blue nearest the pole, white in the center, and golden yellow on the extreme of the flag, from the pole. Upon the white center shall be inscribed the Coat of Arms of the Rochester Family, as allowed by the Herald's Visitation to the County of Essex, England, in the year 1558. Beneath the said Coat of Arms shall appear the word Rochester, in a downward curved line. The hoist and fly of said flag shall correspond with those of the Flag of the United States of America, particularly so when used in conjunction with our National flag. (Ordinance 4079.)
James Croft, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Symbolism

According to Mayor Hiram H. Edgerton, who designed the flag in 1910: The blue represents our exceptional water and electric power; the white, the cleanliness of our city; the gold, our financial strength and industrial prosperity .... The city is located at the mouth of the Genesee River on Lake Ontario. It is also on the New York State Barge Canal system (the Erie Canal created an industrial boom for Rochester in the 1820s).

Originally Ebenezer "Indian" Allen had settled here in 1789, but by 1791 he had abandoned his sawmill and gristmill. Then in 1803, Colonel Nathaniel Rochester, traveled with two companions by horse from Maryland to Genesee country. Colonel Rochester purchased 100 acres of land when he saw the abundance of water resources in the area and the potential for factories. By 1817 Rochester had become a village. The Rochester family coat of arms commemorates Colonel Rochester and recognizes his contributions to its history.

In 1933 Edward R. Foreman, the city historian, wrote a brief history on The Official Flag of Rochester, in which he described the symbols on the Rochester family coat of arms. The shield is gold with a horizontal black bar midway across it and occupying one-third of the width of the field. Three black waxing crescent moons (horns up) are placed two above and one below the bar. The shield has a narrow red border. According to Foreman, the crane (in the crest) represents vigilance; the three crescents symbolize fertility and prosperity; and the black bar represents a waistband, one of the symbols of high command in knighthood. The red border on the shield symbolizes military affiliation. (Although these emblems are given traditional heraldic meanings, there is no documentary proof that they relate to the symbols on the Rochester family arms).
James Croft, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Selection

Upon learning that the flag had never been formally adopted by the city council, the historical society brought the matter to the council at the urging of the city historian, Edward R. Foreman.
James Croft, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Designer

Mayor Hiram H. Edgerton.
James Croft, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

More about the Flag

On 15 September 1910, Mayor Edgerton had formally designated this flag as official but the common council never voted on it. The Rochester Chamber of Commerce, by resolution, approved the design on 19 September, but because the common council never made a decision, the flag remained unofficial until 1934.

A variant of the official flag contains a narrow blue line surrounding the entire coat of arms in the center of the flag. 10:19 are the same proportions as the United States flag.
James Croft, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


Seal

[Municipal seal] image located by Paul Bassinson, 13 October 2019

Source: https://ecode360.com/attachment/RO0104/Ch.15OfficialSeal.tif.png 
Paul Bassinson, 13 October 2019


City banner

[Banner of Town of Rochester, New York] 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. 

The flag most often seen now in Rochester, NY is royal blue with the logo in white. The logo is described as a "white five-petal lilac dissected by five lines representing a water wheel." (Rochester Times-Union, February 26, 1991.) The words "Flour City-Flower City of Rochester, N.Y." surround the logo in gold capital letters, Wikipedia notwithstanding. The logo flag was first designed and used in 1979. While the logo flag is popularly used, the blue-white-yellow vertical tribar remains the official flag according to the City Historian's office.

The logo shown in black on white on the cover of Mayor-elect Duffy's Economic Development.... monograph of 2005 is the same design as the 1979 one, just a different color. Duffy's exhortation on p. 6 to design a new logo (as always, for a new outlook) may not have been pursued subsequently. My guess is that the current logo is rather popular and there may be no real urgency to change it.

Logo flags flown instead of the official city flag are seen in other US cities as well, such as Grand Rapids, MI. They are usually seen as an effort by city officials to symbolize a progressive attitude towards the improvement of the city's economy by introducing something "new."
John Purcell, 22 May 2008

The gold is PMS 124, the blue is PMS 287.
James Croft, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


History of flags in Rochester, New York

There was even another flag: Mayor James G. Culer created and used a "mayor's flag" during his 1904-08 term of office. It was white with the city seal in gold in the center.
Source: American City Flags (Purcell, 2003), contribution by James Croft
Jarig Bakker, 30 December 2007

Beside's the 1904-1908 mayor's flag, the city flag was evidently chosen in 1910. From the Rochester timeline at www.vintageviews.org/vv-tl/timeline/early20th.html:

1910 .....# City flag first displayed. No description given.
There was also a Police Department Flag in 1910, with the city seal on a light field A pair of 1910 photos show the flag: www.rochester.lib.ny.us/rochimag/rmsc/scm03/scm03188.jpg (context at www.rochester.lib.ny.us:2080/cgi-bin/cw_cgi?fullRecord+11146+716+5711+292+0) and www.rochester.lib.ny.us/rochimag/rmsc/scm03/scm03136.jpg (context at www.rochester.lib.ny.us:2080/cgi-bin/cw_cgi?fullRecord+11146+716+5675+293+0). This flag was not officially adopted until 1934.

Later, in approx. 1916, a police color guard is shown carrying a flag with the city seal on dark field at www.rochester.lib.ny.us/rochimag/rmsc/scm04/scm04671.jpg (in context at www.rochester.lib.ny.us:2080/cgi-bin/cw_cgi?fullRecord+11146+716+4789+205+0), but no indication whether it is the city flag or the department flag.

Again, in approx. 1919 a police guard is holding the seal on light background flag www.rochester.lib.ny.us/rochimag/rmsc/scm06/scm06002.jpg (in context at www.rochester.lib.ny.us:2080/cgi-bin/cw_cgi?fullRecord+11146+716+9159+113+0) [note unidentified tricolor to right].

And at www.rochester.lib.ny.us/rochimag/rmsc/scm06/scm06006.jpg a police guard holding the flag with which appears to have a dark field on one side and a light field on the other, in context at www.rochester.lib.ny.us:2080/cgi-bin/cw_cgi?fullRecord+11146+716+9163+110+0. So very possibly all the above flags held by police were the same - dark obverse and light reverse.
Ned Smith, 31 December 2007

With the help of questions answered and photographs provided by Emily Morry, a historian in the genealogy division of the Rochester Public Library, I've drawn 4 different versions of Rochester's flag.

[Municipal flag] image by Masao Okazaki, 31 July 2021

1. The first version of the flag, adopted in 1934 and shown in the 1910 postcard on the FOTW page and a 1935 photo, had a black border around the coat of arms, red edges for the shield and the crescents, and "ROCHESTER" in black text on a downwardly curved line.

[Municipal flag] image by Masao Okazaki, 31 July 2021

2. The second version of the flag, shown in the photo taken at the 1936 opening of a library, has lost the border. The shield still appears to have a red edge, but whether the crescents do is unclear. The text now appears to be gold.

[Municipal flag]  [Municipal flag] images by Masao Okazaki, 31 July 2021

3,4. Two flags recently found in the library were likely used as recently as the 1950s. One was used outside and is faded, the other was used inside and is intact. They both have a black-bordered shield and gold text but have different shields, cranes, and text. Although the dates of these flags are unclear, their differences from flags in the 1935 and 1936 photographs suggest to me that they were produced later than 1936.

Two recent articles about the flags which include photos.
https://www.rochesterfirst.com/news/local-news/rochesters-official-flag-is-not-the-one-you-think-it-is-dates-back-to-the-early-1900s/
https://rochistory.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/flag-of-our-founders-the-curious-case-of-rochester-city-flag/

Masao Okazaki, 31 July 2021


Police Department

[Flag of Rochester Police Department, New York] image located by Paul Bassinson, 26 February 2021

An image of the flag of the Rochester Police Department from https://www.facebook.com/Rochester-NY-Police-Department-403845733028894/photos/2037482689665182 shows it is a blue flag with the badge centered.
Paul Bassinson, 26 February 2021


Fire Department

[Flag of Rochester Fire Department, New York] image located by Valentin Poposki, 4 July 2010
Source: deweyandridgeway.com/index.php?pageStewardLink=6199

The red edge is found to be a red fringe in photographs of the flag also posted at deweyandridgeway.com/index.php?pageStewardLink=6199.
Valentin Poposki, 4 July 2010


 
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