116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The city’s new redesigned municipal flag represents both Cedar Rapids’ roots and residents’ forward-thinking visions for the future.
The “History and Progress” design option rose to the top of four options in a city survey asking residents to rank different blue, green and white design options to choose the new flag as a symbol of community pride. The city received 2,624 responses to the online survey, which ended in August.
The revamped flag was unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday in the lobby of the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s downtown location, 450 Fifth Ave. SE.
“This flag is meant to be a symbol of pride for the community,” Cedar Rapids City Council member Ashley Vanorny said. “Our residents will now drive how it is used.”
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.
With the symbols, the white arch represents forward progress and Cedar Rapids’ future. Forming a border between the blue water and green field, it also represents flood protection, which protects the community from the river while interacting with it.
The white star symbolizes the historic structures that stand on 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.
The process to redesign the flag began in 2019 after the North American Vexillological Association deemed the flag as one of the top 10 worst in the country in 2004, landing the flag on other “worst of” lists in the years since. In 2015, the city flag was called out in a TED Talk about the importance of flags by American radio producer Roman Mars, a flag aficionado.
The existing white flag depicts industry, urban landscape, corn and churches in a series of scenes outlined in blue. The words “Cedar Rapids” and “Iowa” are printed in red block letters above and below the pictures, and the slogan “Proud of yesterday, progressive today, promising tomorrow” sprawls across a banner in small lettering below the images.
This design was chosen in 1962 during a design contest among local high schools. The artist was Fred Easker, a high school senior that year.
For the new flag, Cedar Rapids asked residents to submit design ideas, colors, shapes and symbols, in an effort to create a flag that reflects the city and incorporates citizen ideas. The city paused the endeavor in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and derecho before seeking final survey input this summer.
“We think now is the time for some fun, good news and community pride,” Vanorny said.
North American Vexillological Association members provided two rounds of ratings, comments and suggestions on the submitted designs. A local committee used the association’s feedback and resident input to choose the four finalists.
Design followed the 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
According to the city, this project totaled $687.73 for public engagement materials.
Digital files of the new flag will be made available for printing and other community uses. To make it publicly available for use, the Tree of Five Seasons was not used on the flag as it is a registered city trademark and is used to represent the government entity.
Raygun already has made T-shirts featuring the flag — Vanorny was sporting one Saturday morning, and said “we hope to see many other local vendors create flag items.”
Other businesses interested in creating flag merchandise may contact the city at CityFlag@cedar-rapids.org.
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