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Portland, Oregon (U.S.)

Multnomah County

Last modified: 2016-02-27 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of Portland, Oregon] image by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 8 October 2005

See also:

Description of the 2002 Flag

(from Portland City site, in turn from NAVA's American City Flags)

Description: The flag of the City of Portland is an offset cross of light blue, edged by white-yellow-white stripes, with a white four-pointed star in the left center, all on a background of Kelly green. The official size, proportions, and color elements in the City Flag are specified in the Portland City Code 1.06.010 (

History: In 1969, at the suggestion of Mayor Terry Schrunk, the Portland Art Commission established a special committee to select a designer for an official city flag. It chose Douglas Lynch, former president of the Art Commission and a prominent local graphic design professional and teacher. After extensive research and consultation with art commission members and city commissioners, he proposed a design in a process he called "as much diplomatic as it was artistic". The Portland City Council adopted the flag in January 1970. In 2002, with the encouragement of the Portland Flag Association, Mr. Lynch simplified and improved the design, and the revised version was adopted by Ordinance 176874 on September 4, 2002.

Symbolism: Green symbolizes Oregon's forests, which surround Portland. The intersecting vertical and horizontal blue stripes represent the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, with the central white star (technically, a "hypocycloid") signifying Portland at their confluence. The yellow stripes symbolize the harvest of golden yellow grain Portland is a major exporter of wheat) and the gold of commerce. The white stripes are merely decorative. The offset cross is not intended to resemble a Scandinavian cross. The design inspired the logo of the Port of Portland.

Locations: The City Flag flies in front of the Portland Building (5th Avenue) and City Hall (4th Avenue), in Pioneer Courthouse Square, and on many other commercial buildings around the city. It also hangs in the City Council Chamber and the Portland Building's 2nd-Floor Auditorium.

located by Andrew Rogers, 4 August 2003

In the depths of the Portland civic code (section 1.06.010, para F, adopted 2002), it reads:

"Both the official flag described above and the prior official flag that was adopted in 1969 shall be considered valid official flags until and including December 31, 2004. On and after January 1, 2005, only the flag described above [i.e., without the seal] shall be considered the official flag of the City."

located by Andrew Rogers, 4 August 2003

1969 Flag

[Flag of Portland, Oregon] by Jens Pattke, 18 April 2004

The City Seal distinguishes the official flag of the City of Portland, Oregon and appears in the upper left corner. The background is green for Oregon's forests, two blue stripes represent the Columbia and Willamette rivers, and a small white star points to Portland's location at their confluence. Gold stripes symbolize the harvest of golden grain and the gold of commerce. Size, proportions and color elements in the City Flag are specified in the Portland City Code 1.06.010 (

History: In 1969, the Portland Art Commission established a special committee to select a design for an official city flag. Local artists submitted designs and the committee selected the design by Douglas Lynch. An Ordinance establishing the City Flag was passed by the Portland City Council January 8, 1970.

Symbolism: The City Code gives detailed specifications for the colors and proportions of the flag, but does not provide the meaning behind the colors and shapes. The symbolism of the flag was explained in 1975 by Ginna Deinum, an assistant to then Mayor Goldschmidt.

The flag's green field, or background, represents Oregon's forests. The two blue stripes which run through the flag at right angles represent the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, and the small four-pointed white star left of center represents the confluence of these Rivers and the location of the City of Portland. The gold stripes represent both the golden grain of our harvests and the gold derived from commerce in the Willamette Valley.

The white stripes are a heraldic custom stemming from medieval times when tradition decreed that colors should not touch each other. The white stripes used in the Portland flag separate the various colors, so that they will not visually blend into each other.

The seal in the upper left-hand corner is a vital part of the heraldic shield and is called a canton. It occupies the same position as does the field stars in our national flag. This is a place of honor, and the canton is in effect a small flag on a larger flag. The seal is the City of Portland's official seal. Much of the symbolism of the flag has been adopted from the seal, with the exception of a specific symbol on the flag to represent the importance of our status as a port city.

Portland Rose: Portland is known as the City of Roses and the original design for the flag called for a picture of a rose on the back of the flag in the same position as that of the seal on the front. A photograph in the City Archives file shows a brilliant, full-blown, red rose on a white circle. However, the due to costs of production this part of the design was eliminated when the design was officially adopted, and none of the flags currently on display include a rose.

Locations: The City Flag is hung on flag poles in front of the Portland Building (5th Avenue), City Hall (4th Avenue), in the City Council Chamber and the Portland Building, 2nd Floor Auditorium. A simplified version of the flag may be used when displayed outdoors from a pole or staff, but the official flag must be displayed inside a building or used for parade purposes. See Portland City Code 1.06.020 (

Liisa Fagerlund

located by Dov Gutterman, 3 October 2002

1905 World's Fair

[Portland 1905 World Fair]
image located by Bill Garrison
Source: (image no longer available)

"This is an extremely rare 1905 Lewis & Clark flag from the original World's Fair and Exposition in Portland, Oregon. The Oregon Historical Society says it may be 1 of only 2 in existence. The flag has been matted and framed. The frame measures 43" X 31"."

1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition, Portland, Oregon
[from the official report of the Exposition]

Emblem & Flag:
The official emblem symbolized the arrival of the explorers at the Pacific Ocean. In the foreground were the figures of Lewis and Clark, with the Goddess of Liberty marching between them. In the distance was the setting sun and the wave-washed ocean shore. The emblem was greatly admired for its strength and life. The colors of the official flag were red, white, blue, and yellow, a union of the national colors of the United States, Great Britain, Russia, France and Spain, in recognition of their explorations of the Northwest Coast and search for the Northwest Passage. That part of the flag corresponding to the starry field of the American flag was a blue field bearing in white, a flowering grape, surrounded by five stars, representing Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, the five states of the old Oregon Country. The remainder of the flag was a square, yellow field crossed by four red bars in the form of a St. George's cross. The bars and  the yellow field represented the five nations above referred to, while the yellow was symbolic also of the Oriental side of the Exposition. In the center, in a circle, was the official emblem in colors.
Oregon Historical Society 1994

See also: World Fairs