Last modified: 2004-12-22 by
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by Antonio Martins, 24 August 2000
The Columbus Day Committee proposed the City Flag in 1913. It was introduced into the City Council 16 January 1914 but was not adopted until 30 January 1917.
The design is the City Seal in dark blue on white and buff centered on a dark blue field. The proportions are 7:10.
The City Seal was designed in 1823 and slightly modified in 1827. Designed by John R. Penniman (New England's most famous flag painter of the 'golden era'), it consists of a view of the City, including the Massachusetts State House, and ships in the harbor in the foreground depicted in dark blue on white. Below is the legend 'Bostonia Condita A.D. 1630' in dark blue and encircling the seal at the top is the motto 'Sicut Patribus Sit Deus Nobis', which means 'God be with us as He was with our fathers', and 'Civitatis Regimine Donata A.D. 1822' around the bottom. These last two inscriptions appear in dark blue on a buff circle, fimbriated white. This version of the seal on the flag is slightly different than the official emblem.
The ordinance specifies the flag is to be used on City Hall and on the Boston Common and that it is to be made of bunting with the seal showing through to the back side. The ordinance also specifies a 'Municipal Standard' to be made of silk for use in parades and other occasions when the mayor is present. The City Seal appears on the obverse and a depiction of the Trimountain is supposed to appear on the reverse. No illustration of this distinctive reverse is known to exist. The Standard is supposed to be fringed in buff.
The colors of the flag and standard, 'Continental blue' and buff are the colors of the Revolutionary War uniforms of Boston Soldiers. In practice, the City Flag is used exclusively and is often fringed.
Dave Martucci, 9 March 1998
The shade of blue is "Continental" blue (as in the Continental Army of 1776), but every representation I have ever seen here in town is a light blue. I don't think it has to do with fading in the weather. Either the manufacturer doesn't know the official specifications, or someone changed them.
The "yellow" is supposed to be "buff" (again, a 1776 uniform color) but I have never paid close enough attention to the actual flag specimens to notice that. There's not much of it on the flag in any event.
Al Kirsch, 14 November 2000
Most of the flags I've seen in my 50+ years here actually have a lighter shade of blue, what I would describe as "sky blue." But I have seen the occasional flag with the shade shown in the image. I suppose that the flag flown at City Hall would be as official as one could get. But the last time I was there, the flag on one side of the building was sky blue; the one on the other side was the somewhat darker shade, more like the one on the image above. I have no idea what the official shade is.
Phil Cleary, 18 September 2002