Last modified: 2023-05-06 by rick wyatt
Keywords: district of columbia | united states | washington dc |
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image by Zachary Harden, 26 May 2016
On June 16, 1938, Congress passed Public Law 650 authorizing a flag commission "to procure a design for a distinctive flag for the District of Columbia." The commission consisted of the following:
"The proportions of the design are prescribed in terms of the hoist, or vertical height, of the flag as follows: the upper white portion shall be 3/10 of the hoist; the two horizontal bars are each 2/10 of the hoist; the white are between the bars 1/10 of the hoist; and the base, or lowest white space, is 2/10 of the hoist. The three five-pointed stars have a diameter of 2/10 of the hoist and are spaced equidistant in the fly, or horizontal, dimension of the flag."Source: Government of the District of Columbia, untitled monograph, 1963, pp. 21-23.
image by Steve Stringfellow
The National Geographic magazine of 1937 shows this flag. The description in the magazine is as follows:
"In the absence of any official flag for the District of Columbia, the District Militia devised the one reproduced here, and until such time as it shall be replaced by law, it will be the flag of the District of Columbia, just as formerly the one with the hatchet has that status."
Steve Stringfellow, 13 August 2002
The device on the center (the Capitol dome in front of a rising sun) is still the crest used on coats of arms of units of the District of Columbia Army National Guard. It is, therefore, still flag relevant since it appears on the regimental and battalion colors of such units.
Joe McMillan, 14 August 2002
image by Dave Martucci, 1 June 1997
Flag as shown in National Geographic Magazine (1917)
image located by Steve Shumaker, 19 March 2012
I came across a supposed flag for the Washington, District of Columbia listed as "1888 N6 City Flags WASHINGTON **AA-1793**" on eBay (www.ebay.com/itm/120608252214).
Checking our page, I find that there was no official flag for the District of Columbia prior to the current flag's adoption in 1938. Previous to that the District Militia's flag was informally used. Looking into the District's history on Wikipedia, several entities formerly existed in the District prior to 1871: City of Alexandria, the County of Alexandria, Georgetown, the City of Washington, and the County of Washington. The Virginia part, the City of Alexandria and the County of Alexandria returned in 1846. source: Wikipedia. So my first though is that the flag represented the pre-1871 City of Washington, but a second look at the Washington, DC city seal adopted in 1871 says otherwise. (About DC) The seal on the flag seem to be a (more life like) variant of the seal show on Wikipedia.
As a side note, a 1876 reported version of this seal has the Statue of Freedom instead of a George Washington statue.
Steve Shumaker, 19 March 2012
It remains a federal district, separate from the 50 states, just as it was when it was established in the late 1700s. (About 40 square miles were given back to the State of Virginia in the 1840s because they thought that there would never be enough bureaucrats to fill the original 100 square miles. Boy were they wrong!) The District has obtained a certain amount of "home rule" since the 1960s which means that the citizens may elect a Mayor and a City Council, however they have no voting representative in the U.S. Congress.
Nick Artimovich, 20 January 1998
George Washington's arms were two horizontal bars on a white field, with three red mullets (5-pointed spur rowels) in the chief. The design is seen on the side of DC official vehicles, on the license plates, etc, and was adopted as the flag of Washington, DC, in 1938. (Ironically, one of the largest examples of this flag flies on Pennsylvania Avenue and is incorrect in that the bottom "white stripe" is missing!) In the 19th century there was a belief that these design elements of G. Washington's arms were the direct antecedent of the U.S. flag. If that were true, then the U.S. flag should be called the "Bars and Mullets" not the "Stars and Stripes."
Technically, the mullets should have holes in the center where they spun on the spur, however I think heraldry has deleted the holes as unnecessary. This means that mullets end up looking exactly like five-pointed stars, which is why folks made the connection between George Washington's arms and the U.S. flag.
Nick Artimovich, 23 January 1997
Sir Lawrence Washington came from the same family as the famous American President. His memorial plaque in Garsdon Church bears the Washington coat of arms - the "Stars and Stripes" as the bars and mullets became when the Americans wanted a flag of their own. This, and more, is from the booklet for the Festival of Flowers, Malmesbury Abbey, September 6th, 7th, and 8th, 1968.
Chuck Maki, 28 August 2017
image by Randy Young, 31 July 2014
The US Capitol Police is a federal law enforcement agency charged with protecting the buildings and properties of the United States Congress, as well as members of Congress and their families, throughout the territory of the United States of America. It is one of a handful of law enforcement agencies that is responsible to the legislative branch of the US Government. The US Capitol Police have exclusive jurisdiction within the grounds of the US Capitol Building and concurrent jurisdiction with other law enforcement agencies for an area of roughly 200 blocks around the Capitol complex in the city of Washington, DC. When actively protecting members of Congress and their families, however, the agency's jurisdiction encompasses the entire United States.
A photograph found online shows an honor guard from the US Capitol Police displaying flags on the Mall in Washington, DC (www.theblueflyer.com).
The flag of the United States Capitol Police features the agency's shoulder patch displayed against a dark blue field.
Randy Young, 31 July 2014
Construction sheet: US Capitol Police
Created 5 September 1974
Base: National Flag Blue (Cable 70077)
Fringe: White (Cable 65005)
Two flags were being carried by the MPD motorcycle escort in the inaugural
parade (in addition to the US and DC flags). One was the MPD flag, of which a
rough version can be seen on
The second was a flag with the commonly-used (in the US) motorcycle officer insignia, on a royal blue background:
image located by Dave Fowler, 21 January 2021
image located by Randy Young, 23 January 2021
A better view of the Metropolitan Police Department flag can be seen at
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EPoHnVeX4AAEaMv.jpg:large. From this photograph,
the field appears to be a light blue similar in shade to that used in the flag
of the Secretary of Defense. The department's
shoulder patch is centered, and appears to be approximately one-half the height
of the flag. Above the patch is arched a lighter blue ribbon bearing the words
"METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT" in gold, capital, serif letters. Arched below
the patch is another lighter blue ribbon with the words "WASHINGTON D.C." in
Randy Young, 23 January 2021
image by Randy Young, 1 April 2023
Visiting Washington, DC, recently, my wife and I were walking around downtown, on 13th Street Northwest, and passed the office building at address 700 13th St NW, noting that it was flying the American and DC flags, as well as what I can only describe as an address flag. The flag was roughly 10 feet by 15 feet, bearing the inscription "700 THIRTEENTH" in white serif capital characters centered on a dark blue field.
The office building at 700 13th Street Northwest houses a number of law offices and several floors for Bank of America, as well as an underground public parking garage. I'm still not sure exactly why this building's tenants or owners felt the need for an address flag, but there it was.
Randy Young, 1 April 2023