June, 1998 Vol. III, No. 1, Issue 5
GREAT WATERS CAPITAL
(Third in a series )
Lansing Mayor David Hollister charged the Lansing Image Task Force to develop a plan to improve the image of the city. One of their recommendations was a new city seal and flag.
These were adopted by the city council on October 17, 1994. The new seal focuses on Lansing's position as the state capital. The capitol dome is the central image of the seal. It appears in black and white silhouette to show the diversity of the city.
The deep orange sun behind the dome represents the hope and opportunity for the future. Together with the purple sky they represent the emotional warmth of the community. The dome is flanked by green trees which are reminiscent of Lansing's beautiful neighborhoods.
In front of the capitol flows the Grand River. It is depicted in white to show the city's commitment to keep it clean and protect the environment.
The seal is surrounded by a circle in which the words LANSING (above) and MICHIGAN (below) appear in black. The seal, centered on a white field, is the city's new flag.
Mayor Hollister criticized the old city seal because the trees were dead. He also said the symbolism was no longer current.
The former seal of Lansing was in use for over 100 years. However, little is known of its history or symbolism. The seal depicts a woodsman before a log cabin felling a tree. Behind him is the orange sun on the horizon. The seal was surrounded by the words CITY OF LANSING (above) and MICHIGAN (below) separated by two gold stars, one on either side. The navy blue background of the city flag on which it appeared is quite common for municipal flags in Michigan.
Because so few facts are known about the seal and flag, several myths have circulated. One explains that the seal represents the fact that Lansing was carved out of the wilderness. As this is true of most cities West of the Appalachian Mountains, it is hardly an event worthy enough to depict on the city seal.
Another myth is that the log cabin represents the first capitol building in the city. Construction of the present stone building commenced in 1871. When the state capitol moved from Detroit in 1847, the government was housed in a clapboard structure in the Greek Revival style. Certainly, neither building bears any resemblance to a log cabin.
Debate has raged as to whether the seal depicts the rising or setting sun. Some felt that the depiction was the setting sun indicating that its frontier days were closing with the arrival of the state government. Others explained that it was the sun dawning on a new age for the city.
Although the seal was in use for over 100 years, it was not depicted on the flag until relatively recently. Records indicate that the city had no flag as late as 1962. However, by 1969 one had been created and placed in the city council chambers. (DB)
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