Blake Pontchartrain: the flag of New Orleans_lowres

The City of New Orleans' flag is an amalgam of two designs entered in a contest. It was officially unfurled in February 1918.

Hey Blake,

Here's a tricentennial-themed question for you: What's the history of the city's official flag?

Dear reader,

  As the city of New Orleans celebrates its 300th anniversary this year, its official flag is marking only its 100th birthday. The City Council adopted the flag design Feb. 5, 1918, after a contest solicited designs in conjunction with the city's bicentennial celebrations that year. A committee of eight, chaired by W.J. Waguespack and including Mayor Martin Behrman, Maison Blanche store president S.J. Schwartz and artists William Woodward and Marie Seebold Molinary, made the final selection from among 379 entries, The Times-Picayune reported.

  The winning design was a compromise, combining features of flags submitted by engraver Bernard Barry and draftsman Gus Couret. The design features three yellow fleurs-de-lis on a field of white, bordered by a red stripe at the top and a blue stripe at the bottom. According to the newspaper, Barry's design featured that color scheme but no fleurs-de-lis. Couret's design was a white field with only the fleurs-de-lis. "The committee wanted the color arrangement of Mr. Barry and the fleurs-de-lis arrangement of Mr. Couret," a Jan. 30, 1918 newspaper story reported. The flag adopted by the City Council had both.

  A ceremony to unveil the flag was held at City Hall Feb. 9, 1918. "The ceremonies began in the mayor's parlor, where the flag was unfurled and presented to the mayor," reported The Times-Picayune. "Mayor Behrman responded ... that it was strange that a city, which for two centuries had occupied so exalted a position, had not before seen fit to adopt a flag." Barry and Couret were present outside City Hall when the flag was raised. "A salute of twenty-one bombs was fired and the flag was flung to the breeze," the newspaper story said.