The Flag of Des Moines

Between the years of 1974 to 2008 this flag was flown throughout Des Moines. We believe this emblem has the ability to unite our city as a recognizable piece of civic pride. The flag represents the rivers and bridges that connect us — east and west, north and south — and visually define Des Moines.

Our aim is to help spread interest in this piece of our history.

History

In March of 1974, a seventh-grade teacher named Gerald LaBlanc and some of his students from Callanan Middle School persuaded the City Council and Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce to host a citywide flag design contest. There were nearly 400 entries from Des Moines residents — ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. The contest winner was Walter “Bud” T. Proctor, an editor, publisher, and founder of American Host, a hotel-motel-resort industry magazine. Of his design, Proctor said, “…I wanted simplicity… an easy-to-recognize symbol people could see and recognize at once.”

Proctor’s red, white, and blue design drew from central features of our city: the Des Moines River and the Walnut, Locust, and Grand Street bridges that connect our downtown ecosystem.

The flag was officially adopted in April of 1974. By 1975, it was being flown outside of businesses and residences across the city. In the years that followed, it was used as a logo and symbol for the City of Des Moines, appearing on city letterhead and other material.

In the 1990s, production of the flag was retired though the flag continued to fly around town. In 2008, the fate of the flag was sealed as the City of Des Moines rebranded and stopped flying our fair flag. Since that moment, the flag of Des Moines as we once knew it has appeared less and less over the last decade.

Sources

  1. Symbols of Des Moines, Geoff Wood Medium
  2. Flag of Des Moines, Iowa, Wikipedia
  3. Des Moines, Iowa, Flags of the World
  4. American City Flags: Des Moines, Iowa, NAVA (North American Vexological Association)
  5. City of Des Moines Flag (Archived October 26, 2007), Internet Wayback Machine: City of Des Moines Official Website
  6. Walter T. Proctor’s Explanation of His City of Des Moines Flag Design (Archived December 16, 2005), Internet Wayback Machine: City of Des Moines Official Website

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Color + Symbolism

When seen together, this flag’s colors and symbols combine into a timeless and modern piece of our design history that deserves to be cherished for generations to come.

The simplicity of the shapes, drawn from symbols known to Des Moines, make this a design one can easily recall from memory.

Blue: The blue symbolizes the great Raccoon and Des Moines rivers whose union made this location in Iowa the perfect place for its now capital city.

White: The three white color blocks–originally conceived as the Walnut, Locust, and Grand bridges — encompass the many great bridges of Des Moines that serve to connect us east and west.

Red: The red trapezoid represents the city of Des Moines and its passionate residents who serve as its life blood.

Buy Flag Swag

Show Des Moines your support for a symbol that unites us all and that we can wear with pride.

High Quality Embroidered Nylon Flag
(5 x 2½ ft.)

$60.00

Trucker Hat

$25.00

Dad Hat

$25.00

Snapback Hat

$25.00

Stocking Cap

$25.00

Soft Enamel Pin
(1½ x ¾ in.)

$10.00

Embroidered Iron-on Patch
(3 x 1½ in.)

$6.00

Stickers

$1.00

On the Importance of Flag Design

“What I love about flags is that once you understand the design of flags — what makes a good flag, what makes a bad flag — you can understand the design of almost anything.”
—Roman Mars, 99% Invisible

#FlagofDesMoines

Tag the flag! Follow us on Instagram @flagofdesmoines or use the hashtag #flagofdesmoines to show how much you love our great flag.

Newsletter Signup

We’re just getting started but have plans in motion for events and announcements related to the DSM flag. To be notified of future happenings, please sign-up for our newsletter.

About Us

Mason and Emily are a husband and wife duo who are newly established in Des Moines and feel fortunate to be a part of such an incredible, creative community. Once we read about the flag of Des Moines, we were shocked to learn how little support or awareness there was of this icon. We decided we'd like to change that.

Together we also run Yellow Door Gallery a traveling art gallery/consultancy and Kettle Black Ceramics a small studio producing functional ceramics available at local small business.

Contact Us

E-mail is the best way to reach us. Let us know how you can support our mission to promote the flag. We're also here to answer your questions and hear your ideas and feedback.

info@flagofdesmoines.com