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Charleston, West Virginia (U.S.)

Kanawha County

Last modified: 2018-07-26 by rick wyatt
Keywords: charleston | west virginia | kahawha county |
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[Flag of Charleston, West Virginia] 7:12 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.



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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

Charleston’s flag has a border of blue with a coat of arms in the center on a light field, perhaps in imitation of the West Virginia state flag. However, the field in Charleston’s flag is bright yellow instead of white and the shade of the blue border is lighter than on the state flag. Above the shield of the arms is a red scroll with CHARLESTON in black. Surrounding the lower half of the shield are various green leaves, predominantly oak leaf clusters. The shield is set on a decorative framework of descending lines, creating the effect of a fringed trumpet banner. In the topmost part of the shield appears the dome of the state capitol in blue and yellow with MDCCXCIV (1794 in Roman numerals) in blue. The arms are quartered. In the first quarter (upper hoist corner), a crossed rifle and arrow appear in yellow on a green field. In the second quarter is a sternwheeler in yellow on blue. The third quarter shows a pick and shovel, yellow on black. The fourth quarter contains a yellow cog, looking very much like a flower, on a red field.
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Symbolism

The capitol dome refers to Charleston’s status as the capital of West Virginia. The crossed rifle and arrow recall the city’s frontier heritage and its beginnings as a fort in the French and Indian War. The paddleboat represents the role of shipping in Charleston’s economy and its location at the juncture of two rivers. The pick and shovel are those of a coal miner, emphasizing the importance of mining to West Virginia. The black color further stresses the role of coal in the Charleston economy. The cogwheel reflects the city’s industries as well as its former nickname as “the Cog City”. The leaves surrounding the lower half of the shield may be for the love of nature of the city’s inhabitants.
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Selection

The city’s flag was the result of a competition organized by the Charleston Gazette on the occasion of Charleston’s 175th anniversary in 1969. A panel of judges headed by the mayor selected the winner.
Flag adopted: 1970 (unofficial).
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

Designer

Gilbert Bayless, a 35-year-old analyst from the city of Bancroft, won the $500 prize out of a field of 1,236 entries.
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

More about the Flag

Charleston has its own “Betsy Ross”. Mrs. William O. Arden researched and designed the first West Virginia state flag. She had the further honor of creating the first official Charleston flag.
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003