This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Austin, Texas (U.S.)

Travis County

Last modified: 2018-07-29 by rick wyatt
Keywords: austin | texas | travis county |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors



[Flag of Austin, Texas] 2:3 image(s) by permission of David B. Martucci
image(s) from American City Flags, Raven 9-10 (2002-2003), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright.



See also:


Current Flag

Text and image(s) from American City Flags, Raven 9-10 (2002-2003), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright. Image(s) from American City Flags by permission of David B. Martucci.

Design

Austin’s flag has a white field with a heraldic shield in the center. On a field of 2 by 3 units, the shield, which has a triangular shape at its bottom, is about 1 unit high overall and about 2/3 of a unit wide. The shield is divided vertically in three equal stripes of red, white, and red. The top of the shield, or chief, is an inverted blue isosceles triangle bearing an ancient oil lamp, in gold, its spout toward the hoist. The shield is fimbriated with a narrow gold border. The crest of the shield rests on a white wreath, from which two large white wings outlined in blue rise vertically on either side of a gold cross bottonny. Silhouetted behind the crest in red is the dome and upper part of the state capitol. Centered in a curve counterclockwise below the shield is CITY OF AUSTIN in blue, across the center third of the flag.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Symbolism

The crest comes from the coat of arms of Stephen F. Austin, for whom the city is named. (Austin was an early settler in Texas and the first Secretary of State of the Republic of Texas, and is often called the “Father of Texas” for his efforts in helping it win independence from Mexico.) The colors of the shield match the Texas state flag and the United States flag. The ancient lamp symbolizes knowledge, citing the educational advantages of living in Austin, where the University of Texas is located. The image of the state capitol and its distinctive dome marks Austin’s status as the state’s capital.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Selection

In mid-1915, Mrs. William R. Wyse, editor of Gossip, suggested to Mayor A. P. Wooldridge that the city ought to have its own flag. The mayor appointed a committee of some 38 citizens to study the issue. That committee led to another committee of 10 to develop a process for selecting a flag. The city, through this committee, set up a contest and offered two prizes, one of $50 for first place, and another of $25 for second place, for an appropriate design. A third committee judged the more than 100 entries, a process which took several months.
Flag adopted: 12 April 1919 (official).
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Designer

Ray F. Coyle, of San Francisco, took first place. Second place went to G. A. Geist, a faculty member at Texas A&M College.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

More about the Flag

Coyle’s original design had a white star and crown on the chief, representing “The City of the Violet Crown”, but the committee suggested substituting the gold lamp in their place as more appropriate to Austin’s role as a center of education. The committee also added the blue to the wings of the crest to make them more visible.

In 1991, a citizen identified as “Murray” sued the city, protesting the use of the Christian cross on the crest as violating the separation of church and state mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled that the use of the cross was a historically valid part of Austin’s arms, and could therefore be retained on the flag.
John M. Purcell, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


Variant of the Flag

[Flag of Austin, Texas] image by Jens Pattke, 28 June 2014

This variant shows the central shield-shaped component of the seal inside a ring with the name and date.

I came across a photograph online of the Austin, Texas, Police Department honor guard participating in the 20th Annual Emerald Society & Pipeband March and Service on 14 May 2014 (www.flickr.com). The honor guard is seen carrying the American flag, Texas flag, Austin city flag, police officers' memorial flag, Austin Police Department flag, and the POW/MIA flag. The Austin city flag, however, differs from the one [posted below]. The one being carried by the honor guard is the full city seal displayed on a white field, with a gold ceremonial fringe. At this point, I don't know if this is a variant of the city flag, or represents the adoption of a new city flag design.
Randy Young, 28 June 2014