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Brooklyn, New York (U.S.)

Kings County

Last modified: 2006-07-22 by
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[Flag of Brooklyn] by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 25 July 2000

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The flag of the Borough of Brooklyn is based on the flag of the old City of Brooklyn, which of course lasted until "The Great Mistake of (18) '98" of union into Greater New York. You can find one of the old flags on a wall in Borough Hall, right next to the new Brooklyn Tourist Office. The motto on both flags is, "Een Draght Mackt Maght", meaning "In Unity there is Strength". This is also the meaning of the fasces the woman is carrying, a traditional Roman and Classical Republican symbol of Unity, expressed by the rods bundled together around the axe. This was before this symbol was degraded by Mussolini. I have seen old magazine illustrations from the controversial period before the 1898 creation of Greater New York, and the editorial cartoons always show Brooklyn as a woman, as opposed to her male suitor of New York. So the woman may represent Brooklyn herself, and the rods of the fasces the many towns from which the City of Brooklyn was itself formed.

The current 'official colors' of Brooklyn are blue and gold, and these clearly derive from the current Borough flag, and I don't think they have any other special meaning. Note that these colors are not in the old Brooklyn City Flag. The honor of the Brooklyn colors reached its highest ebb when Borough President Marty Markowitz wore a pair of boxing shorts in blue and gold to publicize his 'Lighten Up, Brooklyn' weight-loss campaign. Otherwise I, at least, would never have heard
of them.
Richard Knipel, 8 July 2004

From the on-line city administrative code City Flag:
Brooklyn Borough Flag
2-105 Official flag; borough of Brooklyn.
a. The following description is hereby adopted as the description of the official flag of the borough of Brooklyn.
A white background in the center of which is the design of the seal. Within the seal appears a figure of the goddess of justice in gold holding Roman fasces in her left hand set on a background of light blue. Encircling her figure on a background of dark blue appear the words "Een Draght Mackt Maght" the old Dutch motto for "In unity there is strength" and below the words "borough of Brooklyn." The outside and inside trim of the seal is gold.
Joe McMillan, 15 August 2003

Brooklyn is today represented by one star in the inner circle of the NYC Police Department flag, being one of the three cities (as opposed to towns and villages) that formed the City of Great New York in 1898 (along with the existing City of New York and the Long Island City).
Richard Knipel, 31 July 2004

Former Flag

[Former Flag of Brooklyn] by Richard Knipel

Brooklyn, my home and now one of five boroughs of New York City, was once its own city. Indeed, for much of the 19th Century it was the third largest city in the  US (Today, it would be the fourth largest). So I give you the flag of the old city of Brooklyn, which by its end had about one million inhabitants, making this its flag rather an important, if forgotten, piece of vexillological history.

The image above is a rather cleaned up and rejuvenated version of a photo I took of an old hand-painted flag on display inside Brooklyn's current Borough Hall and former City Hall. I have not thoroughly researched this flag's history, but I can say that the municipal entity of the City of Brooklyn existed from 1834-1898, gradually growing from its origins out of the Village and then Town of Brooklyn across the East River from Lower Manhattan to eventually absorb all of Kings County, before itself being subsumed into New York City, in what some here still call, largely tongue in cheek, "The Great Mistake of '98."

Note of course that this City Flag with its fasces-bearing young woman is the clear inspiration for the current Borough Flag, which has inevitably fallen a bit into modern vexillological decadence. The modern flag confines the woman's figure into a rather unnecessary seal, while incidentally changing the color of her robes from apparent light blue to gold, and of her hair also from red to a golden blond. Also note of course that Mark Sensen, quite understandably, has misspelled the motto of both flags on the FOTW site. It is of course, as can be plainly seen, "Een Draght Mackt Maght". The translation could perhaps also be more accurately rendered, "In Unity there is Strength." This is how our Borough President has cited it, and it seems to fit the form and apparent meaning of the Dutch words better, at least to one as I who does not speak Dutch.
Richard Knipel, 20 June 2004

I think I should make clear concerning the seal on the flag, that it is NOT the same as the seal of Brooklyn. The official seal of Brooklyn shows the woman in a more frontal, rather than profile, view. Apparently the seal was altered for the flag, with the woman in profile having a clearer silhouette and better able to 'march' on parade, if that ever came up. You can find some images on the Brooklyn Borough President's website:
Richard Knipel, 21 June 2004

I have heard that the fasces represents the union of the old towns. The 'official' colors of Brooklyn are blue and gold - I have seen them used as such on an official document (ribbons on the seal).
Richard Knipel, 8 July 2004

The spelling of Dutch in the 17th century was still very haphazard and various different spellings of the words 'eendracht', 'maakt' and 'macht' is very likely. I have never come across the spelling 'mackt' on the flag for 'maakt' before and have a sneaking suspicion that it is at best a mistake or at worst an English corruption that have crept in over the centuries. My Dutch is, however, also suspect (I can read it but would never dare write it), and one of our Dutch members could perhaps give a more authoritative answer.
Andre Burgers, 8 July 2004