We stumbled across an old version of the San Francisco City Flag a while back and decided to dig a little deeper into its history.
In 1900, James Phelan, then Mayor of San Francisco, suggested that the city adopt a flag and motto. He personally sponsored a design competition with an award of $50. Over 100 designs were submitted and after careful review the mayor’s flag committee chose Impressionist painter John M. Gamble's design. The approved design depicted a black phoenix (a symbol of immortality) rising from yellow flames. Below the phoenix, lies a banner held by its talons with the motto “Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra,” which, translated from Spanish, reads, “Gold in Peace, Iron in War.” The motto references aren't certain - some say that it refers to San Francisco’s role in sending troops to the Philippines as San Francisco was the embarkation point at the height of the Spanish-American War. Others suggest that the Phoenix symbolized San Francisco's recovery from multiple fires and earthquakes in the 19th century. The Flag committee wanted a more refined design, so they contracted Robert Ingersoll Aitken, a local designer and artist, to add a few finishing touches.
San Francisco is a resilient city having been through multiple fires, earthquakes and now a global pandemic. We felt it was the right time to launch this new series of tees - our homage to the original San Francisco Municipal Flag featuring the Phoenix Rising. Find 'em here.
We will arise from the ashes as we’ve done before because San Francisco is after all “The City that Knows How”.