Flags are potent symbols with varied interpretations. A flag can represent an idea or an ideal. When well designed it is neither decoration, nor an object to be honored for itself. It is honored for what it represents.
Every great neighborhood deserves a great flag. Denver is a city of many unique and cherished neighborhoods. Residents are fiercely loyal to their neighborhood and are passionate about protecting them. In this time of rapid growth and change for our City, a neighborhood flag has the power to bring people together. This will be an ongoing and evolving quest and I would love to hear what you think or if you are interesting in collaborating. Follow the project and help me make Denver more colorful.
Each flag is designed using the North American Vexillological Association's guidelines for flag design:
KEEP IT SIMPLE
USE MEANINGFUL SYMBOLISM
USE TWO TO THREE BASIC COLORS
NO LETTERING OR SEALS
— GALLERY —
THE FLAGS OF DENVER
This west side neighborhood is named for P.T. Barnum who owned the 760 acres which make up much of neighborhood. While violating some of the flag design rules, an exception can be made in this unique circumstance in order to honor the history of the neighborhood's original booster.
Bear Creek cuts through this southwest Denver suburban styled neighborhood, creating sweeping views to the west and convenient access to recreational opportunities. The valley created by the creek is represented in the flag, along with the waterway's namesake.
The neighborhood gets its name from the mansion of Lawrence C. Phipps who was a United States Senator from 1919-1931. The distinctive window pattern and the red brick facade of the Belcaro mansion are the inspiration for the flag.
Named after Berkeley Springs, WV, this neighborhood was mostly alfalfa and celery farms irrigated by Rocky Mountain and Berkeley Lakes. William Lang was commissioned to design the first 35 houses of the development of the nearly 1,500 acres of farm land. The flag features green stripes for this agricultural history, blue water, and white peaked gables seen on many of Lang's designs.
The park the neighborhood is named after, was originally the Prospect Hill Cemetery, but was converted to a park in 1907. The flag is inspired by the neoclassical pavilion in the center of the park, dedicated in 1908 to honor Denver pioneer Walter Cheesman.
Also known as the Golden Triangle, this neighborhood is the civic and cultural hub for the city, home of City Hall, the State Capitol, Denver Art Museum, History Colorado, among other institutions. The flag's central icon is a nod to common neighborhood moniker, while the green represents Civic Center Park, purple- the arts, and blue- the civic functions located in the area.
Congress Parks grew in the 1890's due to the cable car lines extending east from downtown. In 1903 the neighborhood became home to the city nursery, just south of early Denver's largest reservoir, still present today (albeit underground). The gunmetal, green, and blue color way is representative of this neighborhood's history.
The gray bars represent the street car lines which made this neighborhood the first streetcar suburb in the late 1800's. The collision of the different grids of downtown create the namesake five points intersection. The color scheme is based off of the colors of the Harlem flag, since Five Points was known as the Harlem of the West.
GREEN VALLEY RANCH
This far northeast suburban-styled neighborhood was primarily productive agricultural land owned by the Elbert family who homesteaded the land in 1868. In 1973 the land was annexed into the City and County of Denver, and much of it was master planned and developed starting in the early 1980's. The flag represents the area's agricultural past and the rolling plains to the east of the neighborhood.
This southwest Denver neighborhood is well known for its unique collection of mid-century modern homes. Many of the homes in the neighborhood were designed by famed architect Cliff May, who is credited with creating the California Ranch-style house in 1932. May's designs continue to be published and recognized for their unique Californian qualities of a casual indoor/outdoor relationship, and the horizontal low-slung profile that harmonizes with nature, rather than overpowering it.
Hilltop got its start in 1885 with the construction of the City Lateral Canal and later the extension of streetcar lines into the area. In the center of Hilltop is Cranmer Park, with its iconic sundial which was dynamited by a vandal in 1965 and then replaced. The diagonal of the flag is 50°17' the same as the gnomon of the sundial, separating the blue of the canal and the green of the park. Additionally, the silver stripe traversing the flag represents the neighborhood’s former streetcar tracks.
The area which this neighborhood now stands is the former Lowry Air Force Base, a training base used during World War II and the Cold War, and the initial site of the U.S. Air Force Academy from 1955-1958. This aviation history is represented by the propeller icon, along with the curve of the Hanger 2, which still stands today. The blue of the flag is officially known as US Air Force Academy blue.
This east Denver neighborhood flag's colors are an homage to the homeland of the area's founders, Matthias P. Cochrane of New Jersey and Baron Walter von Richthofen of Germany. The opposing quadrants show the tension the neighborhood experienced in the early 1900's when they fought annexation into Denver all the way to the Supreme Court. The central icon is the cupola of von Richthofen's "Molkery", representative of the "TB houses" in the area designed for tuberculosis sufferers.
Originally the College of the Sacred Heart, Regis University outgrew its original home in Morrison and moved to Northwest Denver in the late 1800’s on 40 acres of farmland donated by John Brisben Walker. The land not used by the University was subdivided into the rest of the existing neighborhood. The flag's diagonals, and gold and blue are borrowed from the University’s crest, while the green rows symbolize the crops that once grew in the area.
This south Denver neighborhood is primarily made up of Harvard Gulch Park and its surrounding residential areas. In 1871, Denver pioneer Thomas M. Field bought 80 acres of land and built a large home that later became the State Home for Dependent Children that cared for over 17,000 children through the years. The green represents the sprawling park, while the purple rose symbolizes the hope and compassion for the children that called this area home from 1902 to 1972.
This neighborhood is named for red stones found in the area by early miners, stones that turned out to be garnets. Ruby Hill is home to both Denver's largest bike park, and a snow sports park in the winter. Additionally, Levitt Pavilion is located in the area, a premier outdoor concert venue. The flag features a ruby colored hill, and a distinctive wavelength image representing both music and the sports parks in the neighborhood.
Originally the home of Denver's first international airport, this neighborhood has transformed into a New Urbanist community, and one of the largest urban infill projects in the country. The airport's control tower still remains as a nod to this area's history, but now the runways are sprawling open spaces, tree-lined streets, and welcoming front porches. The blue represents the neighborhood's aviation history, while the green signifies the neighborhood's rebirth.
The blue is for the S. Platte River, the eastern edge of the neighborhood and the burnt orange is a homage to the colors of DHA's Sun Valley Homes, home to most of the neighborhood's residents. The blue/orange colorway matches the Denver Broncos, whose stadium looms over the neighborhood from the north.
The University neighborhood is home to the University of Denver. A potato farmer donated the initial 80 acres for the campus when the university decided to move its home from Downtown Denver. Completed in 1999, the Williams Tower at the Richie Center is the central icon of the flag, whose colors match those of the DU.
This south Denver neighborhood was founded in 1886 and advertised for its unsurpassed mountain views, distant from smelters, with pure air and no saloons, represented by the flag's sky blue. The central icon on the flag is the Richardson Romanesque styled Chamberlin Observatory, completed in 1890, and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The crimson star is a nod to the neighborhood's ties to the University of Denver, who still use the observatory for astronomy classes.
Weir, Lakewood, and Dry Gulches run through this west Denver neighborhood creating hilly terrain and sweeping views. The undulating topography and waterways create geographic barriers for the neighborhood . The gunmetal sun represents the new transit oriented future for the neighborhood by the opening of the W rail line, better connecting this neighborhood to downtown and to the west.
Krisana Park and Lynwood, two areas within this neighborhood, contain some of the finest examples of mid-century modern residential architecture in the US. The Mid-Century modern movement was a reflection of the International and Bauhaus movements. The colors and shapes of the flag reflect these designs
Washington Park is the prime attraction in the neighborhood bearing its name. Designed by Reinhard Schuetze in 1889 and later tweaked by the Olmstead brothers, this a lush retreat is well-appreciated by all Denverites. The park features a replica of Martha Washington's garden at Mount Vernon, whose design is represented in the flag. Additionally, the blue represents the lakes of the park, along with City Ditch which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
WASHINGTON VIRGINIA VALE
This Southwest Denver neighborhood is home to Four Mile Park, which has served many purposes over the years from a stop on Cherokee Trail, to farming, ranching, and currently as home to the oldest standing residential structure in the Denver area (built 1859). The colors and architecture of the iconic house are represented in the design.
The residents of Westwood are over 80% Latino, most of which are 1st or 2nd generation Mexican immigrants. This Mexican heritage along with a distinctive W inspires the flag for this proud West Side neighborhood. The diagonal represent Morrison Road, the main commercial street of the neighborhood which bisects the area.
This project is a combination of two my obsessions, cities and graphic design.
As a City Planner, I worked everyday with residents throughout the City of Denver, who all have one thing in common: immense pride for their neighborhood. Yet, even residents of the same area have different visions for the future of their neighborhood, and in this time of rapid development in Denver, these differing ideals can tear neighbors apart. This project is an attempt to create a unifying symbol for neighbors. For more on flag design and its impact on civic pride listen to this.
The designs above, for the most part, adhere to the basic rules of flag design, or vexillology. The use of these design principles and other flag traditions have been used to create a consistent visual vocabulary . The individual designs were inspired by researching the history, social characteristics and architectural form of each statistical neighborhood. I do not pretend to be an expert in flag design, nor Denver history, but these are just my creative attempts.