District residents have always loved their home town. Just in the past few years, however, the DC flag has truly soared as a symbol of that hometown pride.
Starting today, District residents can show off that pride with a unique and powerful emblem of their love of the District—a flag that has flown at the John A. Wilson Building.
Effective immediately, you can purchase a DC flag that has flown at the District’s city hall and statehouse. Flags can be requested by mail or in person (see details below). Flags will be accompanied by a certificate that authenticates the flag and indicates when it was flown at the Wilson Building. (As is the case at the US Capitol and at other statehouses, the commemorative DC flags that are for sale will fly just briefly at the Wilson Building.)
In a second phase of the program that will be rolled out subsequently, credit card payments will be activated, and people will be able to purchase a flag flown on a specific date whenever possible.
The Flag of the District of Columbia
For much of the District’s history, it had no flag at all. Given our hybrid federal/municipal status, either the American flag or unofficial local flags were used instead.
It was only in 1938, by an Act of Congress, that the process “to procure a design for a distinctive flag for the District of Columbia, the seat of the Capital of the Nation” was put into place. Interestingly, well before the era of social media, a robust design competition took place and a flurry of unofficial public comments came in.
On October 15, 1938, a design by Charles A. R. Dunn was selected as the winner. While theories abound regarding the meaning of the two stripes and three stars on the flag, in reality, they were adopted directly from George Washington’s coat of arms. Remembering the selection process two decades later, Dunn wrote “I think it is a good flag, and I am glad that an early dream of mine came true.”
In 2004, DC’s flag was rated the #1 city flag in North America (out of 150 competitors) in a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association.
Regarding the flying of flags at the Wilson Building, both the location and quantity of flagpoles has varied over time. From the building’s inauguration in 1908 until 1964, the American flag flew over the building from a large flagpole on the roof. In 1964, out of concern for workers’ safety during inclement weather, the decision was made to abandon the rooftop pole. Instead, two poles were installed in front of the building so that the District flag could, for the first time, be added to the daily display.
How to Order A Flag
Please fill out and print this form, include a money order made out to “DC Treasurer” ($35 for a 3’x5’ flag or $45 for 4’x6’ flag), and either mail it to, or drop it off at:
Office of the Secretary
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 5
Washington, DC 20004
Attn: Flag Program