Description: The flag of the City of Portland is an offset cross of light (United Nations) blue, edged by white-yellow-white stripes, with a white four-pointed star in the left center, all on a background of Kelly green. The official size, proportions, elements, and colors of the city flag are specified in the Portland City Code 1.06.010 (http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?&c=28155).
History: In 1969, at the suggestion of Mayor Terry Schrunk, the Portland Art Commission established a special committee to select a designer for an official city flag. It chose Douglas Lynch (1913–2009), former chairman of the art commission and a prominent local graphic design professional and teacher. After extensive research and consultation with art commission members and city commissioners, he proposed a design in a process he called “as much diplomatic as it was artistic”. The Portland City Council adopted the flag in January 1970. Over 32 years later, with the encouragement of the Portland Flag Association, Mr. Lynch simplified and improved the design (enlarging the blue stripes and the star, changing the canton color to green, and removing the city seal). The revised version was adopted by Ordinance 176874 on September 4, 2002. The specifications were updated by Ordinance 186794 on September 3, 2014.
Symbolism: Green symbolizes Oregon’s forests, which surround Portland. The intersecting vertical and horizontal blue stripes represent the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, with the central white star (technically, a “hypocycloid”) signifying Portland at their confluence. The yellow stripes symbolize the harvest of golden yellow grain (Portland is a major exporter of wheat) and the gold of commerce. The white stripes (fimbriations) are merely decorative. The offset cross is not intended to resemble a Scandinavian cross. The design inspired the logo of the Port of Portland.
Locations: The city flag flies in front of the Portland Building (5th Avenue) and City Hall (4th Avenue), in Pioneer Courthouse Square, on every fire station, and on many other commercial buildings and homes around the city. It also hangs in the City Council Chambers and the Portland Building’s 2nd-Floor Auditorium. It is actively flown by the local major-league-soccer fan group, the Timbers Army.
Previous flags: Portland has used three previous flags, none officially adopted, with the first proposed in a flag contest sponsored by Mayor Harry Russell Albee in 1917.
[Source: American City Flags, North American Vexillological Association, ©2004: “Portland, Oregon” by Mason Kaye.]