116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The city of Cedar Rapids’ municipal flag is finally flying high.
After Cedar Rapids revamped its municipal flag design — which was previously considered one of the worst in the U.S. — the new version rose to the top as one of the 25 best new flags in the nation among a wave of U.S. cities redesigning their municipal flags.
Respondents to a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association deemed Cedar Rapids’ flag — redesigned in 2021 — the 22nd best among other new or recently modified municipal flags. The survey also ranked the 25 worst flags. Results are available at nava.org/2022-survey.
Since 2015, the association reported 312 American cities and towns are known to have adopted new or redesigned flags to represent their communities. The organization represents more than 1,000 flag enthusiasts and scholars.
It asked its members and the public to rank the city flags in an online survey from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. More than 2,800 people participated, rating each flag’s design on a scale of zero to 10.
Cedar Rapids in 2019 began the process of designing a new flag after the association first deemed the city’s flag one of the top 10 worst in the country in 2004, a position it retained in subsequent surveys.
In 2015, the city’s flag was called out in a TED Talk about the importance of flags by American radio producer Roman Mars, a flag aficionado.
This flag’s design was chosen in 1962 during a contest among local high schools. The artist was Fred Easker, a high school senior that year.
City Council member Ashley Vanorny, who helped with the flag redesign process, said it took several years to get enough buy-in to pursue a new design, but she thinks it ultimately holds meaningful symbolism and represents the community as a whole, not just city government.
“It was such a labor of love,” Vanorny said. “ … What I hope that we can do is have some pride in that symbolism and see that reflected outward more so that it really is a banding together and feeling of unity for anyone who feels represented underneath it.”
The new “History and Progress” flag is intended to be a symbol of community pride.
The blue backdrop represents the Cedar River flowing through the city and splitting at May's Island. On the left side, the green comes to a rounded point in the center, representing May's Island as well as the city’s green space and recreational areas. The white symbolizes Cedar Rapids’ homes, businesses and infrastructure.
The white arch represents forward progress and Cedar Rapids’ future. It forms a border between the blue water and green field, also representing flood protection, which protects the community from the river while interacting with it.
The white star symbolizes the historic structures of May's Island, and its five points represent the City of Five Seasons motto — spring, summer, fall, winter and extra time afforded to Cedar Rapids residents to enjoy life and all of the other seasons.
This design emerged as the top choice in an online survey where 2,624 residents ranked four different blue, green and white designs.
The new design follows the flag association’s five design principles:
- Keep it simple
- Use meaningful symbolism
- Use two to three basic colors
- No lettering or seals
- Be distinctive or related
Vanorny said she hopes to push the branding of the flag more to promote its use in the community, and although it’s seemingly small, that it can bring a little joy to every Cedar Rapids resident.
“I hope that this gives people confidence in the process and the rationale why we went through the process and procedure that we did,” Vanorny said. “Cedar Rapids should be proud about that.”
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