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Rochester, New York (U.S.)

Monroe County

Last modified: 2014-08-29 by rick wyatt
Keywords: new york | rochester | waterwheel | monroe county |
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[Flag of Town of Rochester, New York] image located by Eugene Ipavec, 2 January 2008

See also:

Description of the flag

Chapter 15, section 2 of the city code states:

"Official flag designated."
"The flag presented to the City of Rochester by the Rochester Historical Society, June 21, 1934, is hereby designated as the official flag of the City of Rochester, having the following description: Said flag to be of three colors, arranged in perpendicular bars of equal width: federal blue nearest the pole, white in the center and golden yellow on the extreme of the flag, from the pole. Upon the white center shall be inscribed the coat of arms of the Rochester family, as allowed by the Herald's Visitation to the County of Essex, England, in the year 1558. Beneath the said coat of arms shall appear the word 'Rochester,' in a downward curved line [Note the wiki image shows a straight line]. The hoist and fly of said flag shall correspond with those of the flag of the United States of America, particularly so when used in conjunction with our national flag."{20B8}&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg42&zz=

and from Chapter 15, section 1, re the seal shown on the earlier flags: "Said seal shall be of the following design: An exact-size circle 2 1/4 inches in diameter around the edge of which is inscribed, Seal of the City of Rochester. Settled in 1812. Incorporated a City 1834.' Within, in the upper part, is a large eagle with wings spread perched on a shield. In the beak of the eagle and draped over both wings is a ribbon inscribed with the words, "Flower City." The shield depicts the rising sun between high hills with a body of water and ancient ships in the foreground. Under the wings of the eagle is an urban skyline which to the right of the shield depicts, among other buildings, flour mills and a train of cars crossing the railroad bridge over the upper falls of the Genesee. To the left of the shield, among other buildings, is depicted the dome of the old City Hall and a church spire and a portion of the Erie Canal spanned by the aqueduct upon which a canal boat loaded with flour barrels is being drawn by two mules. At the base below the shield is a flour barrel, a basket of apples, a plow, a water wheel, a cluster of grapes, a sheaf of grain, an anvil, a pumpkin and other vegetables, all of which are bound with a scroll, upon which is the word "Excelsior.' "
Ned Smith, 31 December 2007

City banner

[Banner of Town of Rochester, New York] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 May 2008

based on

The flag most often seen now in Rochester, NY is royal blue with the logo in white. The logo is described as a "white five-petal lilac dissected by five lines representing a water wheel." (Rochester Times-Union, February 26, 1991.) The words "Flour City-Flower City of Rochester, N.Y." surround the logo in gold capital letters, Wikipedia notwithstanding. The logo flag was first designed and used in 1979. While the logo flag is popularly used, the blue-white-yellow vertical tribar remains the official flag according to the City Historian's office.

The logo shown in black on white on the cover of Mayor-elect Duffy's _Economic Development...._ monograph of 2005 is the same design as the 1979 one, just a different color. Duffy's exhortation on p. 6 to design a new logo (as always, for a new outlook) may not have been pursued subsequently. My guess is that the current logo is rather popular and there may be no real urgency to change it.

Logo flags flown instead of the official city flag are seen in other US cities as well, such as Grand Rapids, MI. They are usually seen as an effort by city officials to symbolize a progressive attitude towards the improvement of the city's economy by introducing something "new."

John Purcell, 22 May 2008

History of flags in Rochester, New York

There was even another flag: Mayor James G. Culer created and used a "mayor's flag" during his 1904-08 term of office. It was white with the city seal in gold in the center.
Source: American City Flags (Purcell, 2003), contribution by James Croft
Jarig Bakker, 30 December 2007

Beside's the 1904-1908 mayor's flag, the city flag was evidently chosen in 1910. From the Rochester timeline at

1910 .....# City flag first displayed. No description given.
There was also a Police Department Flag in 1910, with the city seal on a light field A pair of 1910 photos show the flag: (context at and (context at This flag was not officially adopted until 1934.

Later, in approx. 1916, a police color guard is shown carrying a flag with the city seal on dark field at (in context at, but no indication whether it is the city flag or the department flag.

Again, in approx. 1919 a police guard is holding the seal on light background flag (in context at [note unidentified tricolor to right].

And at a police guard holding the flag with which appears to have a dark field on one side and a light field on the other, in context at So very possibly all the above flags held by police were the same - dark obverse and light reverse.

Ned Smith, 31 December 2007

Fire Department

[Flag of Rochester Fire Department, New York] image located by Valentin Poposki, 4 July 2010

The red edge is found to be a red fringe in photographs of the flag also posted at
Valentin Poposki, 4 July 2010