Will People’s Flag Become Official Milwaukee Flag?
Trio of council members introduce resolution to change city flag.
Since being unveiled in June 2016, the people’s flag of Milwaukee has become ubiquitous. In addition to hanging from flagpoles across the city, you can find the design on beer bottles, bicycles and as of last week on Milwaukee Brewers merchandise.
There is one place you can’t find it – on any official city document. The city has yet to formally adopt the new flag.
Designed by graphic designer Robert Lenz, the new flag symbolizes a number of tried and true Milwaukee elements. The gold represents beer or wheat. The circle represents the sun rising over Lake Michigan. The blue represents the city’s connection to water, with the lake and Kinnickinnic, Menomonee and Milwaukee rivers. The three lines represent the city’s three founders, Solomon Juneau, Byron Kilbourn and George Walker, and how they merged their communities together to form Milwaukee.
A group of Common Council members has introduced a resolution to make it official. Aldermen Khalif Rainey, Cavalier Johnson and Robert Donovan are listed as sponsors on the measure. When asked what led him to sponsor the measure, Johnson stated: “Milwaukee needs a symbol that we all can be proud of and rally around.”
The new flag, selected from a design competition led by Steve Kodis, would replace a hard-to-find city flag that dates back to 1955. Kodis, a graphic designer, was inspired to lead a contest to create a new flag as a way to engender civic pride.
The 1955 flag was designed by Alderman Fred Steffan. The alderman took elements from submissions to a design contest and mashed them into one flag. Matthew J. Prigge attempted to dissect all of the elements in 2015, including County Stadium and City Hall, but the history buff found himself stumped by at least one element. Further compounding the confusion surrounding the current flag, no one seems to have a record of when the design was value engineered, with City Hall and other elements in the flag took on a much simpler design.
The existing flag became the subject of ridicule in 2015 when Roman Mars singled it out in a TED talk as the worst designed civic flag. “Nothing can quite prepare you for one of the biggest train wrecks in Vexillological history. Are you ready? It’s the flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” declared Mars before playing a clip of Kodis describing the flag. The two jointly ridiculed how the flag design goes far enough to include an image of a flag on the flag.
But even if the current flag’s design wasn’t an issue, it’s no wonder the new flag has proliferated. Try to find design files for either version of the 1955 flag and the appeal of the royalty-free people’s flag becomes immediately apparent.
The measure is slated to be reviewed by the Steering and Rules Committee on June 7th. The full council could adopt the flag at their regularly scheduled meeting on June 20th, less than a week after Flag Day.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.