San Francisco Curbs Its Enthusiasm

As we reported in 2015, design journalist Roman Mars spearheaded a prominent effort to revise San Francisco’s flag, starting with a discussion of its problems in his immensely popular TED Talk, Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed. He enlisted the sponsorship of design company Autodesk, attracted some media attention, including an article in WIREDand launched

Two years later, it’s gone nowhere. The last tweet from the project (@SFFlag) was in November of last year. Media coverage has also lapsed — with the exception of a Flag Day article posted last week by the real estate website Curbed: San Francisco’s flag: Should it be redesigned?

The Curbed piece offers little more than a selection of Redditor’s proposals, and a general endorsement of the desirability for a better flag. To re-blog this re-blog, here are the Reddit proposals in a compact format for your browsing convenience. They range from quotations of the city flags of Phoenix AZ and Hong Kong, to an edit of Neil Mussett’s 2014 design, to some actually novel concepts.

Another novel concept appeared this January on the Autodesk blog It’s Alive In the Lab:

Michael Greshko’s proposal. “The green and blue represent land and water/sky. (The two green triangles also represent the Twin Peaks.) The white between them represents unity, as well as surf (land/water) and the city’s fog (land/sky). The red represents progress, in two ways: [1] The rising phoenix on the current flag, as it flies rightward from land up and into the sky. (The red band is approximately the color of the current flag’s flames.) [2] An overhead glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge midway through its span across the strait. The pink at the heart of the flag represents diversity, an important source and mediator of unity and progress. It also nods to the gay liberation movement and the city’s LGBT legacy.”
But without some enthusiasm by Mayor Ed Lee or somebody on the Board of Supervisors, these are all going nowhere fast.

President London Breed and the Board of Supervisors.

As a recent article in the Boston Globe reports, municipal governments often resist efforts to adopt or change flags. Alas, this is being born out in the case of San Francisco, where even local vexillonaire extraordinaire Roman Mars can’t get traction.

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