Issue 3 

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June, 1997                                                                    Vol. II, No. 1, Issue 3


The Flag of Indianapolis, Indiana

(First in a series)

    Although the first flag of Indianapolis was adopted by the Indianapolis Common Council on June 21, 1915, it was not until 1960 that the flag was actually fabricated by Mrs. Norma Gribler (now deceased). The 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 rather large white stars, one superimposed vertically over the other in the quadrants center. In the hoist and fly quadrants, the stars are placed similarly, but they are smaller, and spaced farther apart so that there is a star at each of the spokes intersections.  One large white star, also on a blue field, is placed in the center of the inner circle; superimposed on it is the corporate seal of the city on gold. The remaining three-fifths of the flag is occupied by nine red and white horizontal stripes, beginning with red at the top. (Fig. 1)

    The white circle in the blue field was to represent the city's center, Monument Place ( now called Monument Circle), with the four diagonal spokes representing 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 the Park Board. Lastly, the nine stripes symbolized the nine city councilmen. 

    In 1962, ironically only two years after Mrs. Gribler made the flag for the first time, it was decided that the flag no longer represented the more modern city, and so a contest was held by the John Herron Art Institute to design a new flag. The winner of the contest was Roger Gohl, a student at the Institute. The following year, on May 20, 1963, his design was officially adopted in Resolution Number 7 as the new city flag.

    Gohl's design is obviously influenced the by the former flag, but it is much simpler in design, and unlike its predecessor, has no lettering. The result is one of the most attractive and effective U.S. city flags.

    The flags design recalls the Monument Circle design of the former flag in that the circle is shown in white squarely in the center of the flag's dark blue field. Radiating outward from the circle at the four cardinal points are four white stripes, each the same width as the white circle. In the center of the circle is a large white star on a red field.

    The flags symbolism according to the resolution, is as follows: 

    The large white star represents the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and the fact that Indianapolis is the state capitol. The white circle and the red field within it depict the Monument Circle area of the city. The color red also signifies "the driving energy and urge for progress that has made the City of Indianapolis race ahead." (Fig. 2)

Figure 2

    The four white stripes, each at a ninety-degree angle to the circle, now 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 U.S. national flag, are symbolic of the citizens' patriotism.

    The city flag assumed a new role as the de facto, though not de jure, symbol of Marion County on January1, 1970, when the city and County merged their respective governments into what is known as "Unigov." Marion County is the only one of Indiana's 92 counties to adopt this form of government. (JP)


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