Let It Fly | Urban Living

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Let It Fly

Posted By on November 30, 2022, 4:00 AM

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In a "Who's winning this design?" battle, the state of Utah has a finalist for a new state flag (see p. 18). More on that later.

But in case you hadn't noticed, Salt Lake City got its own new flag two years ago, made up of a blue horizontal bar on the top, a white horizontal bar on the bottom, and a sego lily flower "canton" in the upper-left corner. We don't see many sego lily flowers in the capital city these days, but Sugar House Park has a giant concrete representation of one that you can sit on if you walk in from the south end of the park.

The first Salt Lake City flag was created in 1963. It was designed by J. Rulon Hales, the winner of a contest run by the Deseret News. It included seagulls, pioneers, a covered wagon and the sun rising over the Wasatch. Highland High art students made the first version of it in 1969, when it was officially adopted. At the center of the design was the outline of a beehive, Utah's symbol of industry related to its Mormon heritage. It was a busy design in the flag world, where the ideal look calls for simplicity.

In 2006, the second design of the city flag was adopted by the Salt Lake City Council after Mayor Rocky Anderson sponsored a design contest a few years earlier. Anderson—who has announced he's running again to be Salt Lake City mayor—felt that "the old flag was too exclusive and focused entirely on the city's Mormon heritage." This 2006 flag had a green horizontal bar on top, blue on the bottom and a center oval with a graphic rendition of the Salt Lake City skyline, snowcapped mountains in the background and the words "Salt Lake City."

Not to be outdone, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall decided she wanted a new flag, so in 2020, the city sponsored a contest with a $3,000 prize for the winning entry. Six hundred people sent in their ideas, and the final design was adopted by the city council in October of the same year.

The state is now finalizing its flag redesign. In November, a state commission met to advance their choice for a new flag, with three horizontal lines—the top a navy blue sky, the middle a representation of white snowy mountains and a red bar along the bottom third representing the rocky canyons of southern Utah, with a beehive in the middle and a star beneath it (to represent the state's Native American tribes).

Over 44,000 citizens chimed in on design ideas after state leaders criticized the current flag as "boring" and a "state seal on a blue bedsheet." In January 2023, the Legislature will have to approve the new design.

One critic of the new flag told me the design seemed appropriate: Blue at the top of the state, red at the bottom, and white in the middle, to represent the political factions within our borders.

About The Author

Babs De Lay

Babs De Lay

A full-time broker/owner of Urban Utah Homes and Estates, Babs De Lay serves on the Salt Lake City Historic Landmark Commission. A writer and golfer, you'll find them working as a staff guardian at the Temple at Burning Man each year.

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