Seattle has a city flag, and we’re kinda meh about it

Did you know Seattle had a city flag? We sure didn’t. But that’s the design up there. ⤴

And since it’s Flag Day, we decided to flag a little history for you…


Former Seattle City Council member Paul Kraabel designed it in honor of the 1990 Goodwill Games, an international sports competition our city hosted that year. Those games were an effort to heal relations between the U.S. and Russia — 😬 — and we were the first North American city to host them after the inaugural event in Moscow. The new flag even prompted us to adopt a new city motto: The City of Goodwill.

Our flag features our city’s namesake, Chief Seattle — or Sealth, depending who you’re talking to — who led the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. The city says the tangled jellyfish “undulating white lines” represent Puget Sound’s waves.


Not flapping in the Seattle breeze. The city says there are three physical copies of it that exist, two of which you can see at the Seattle Municipal Archives. Workers at the archives told us they aren’t sure where the last one is. 👀


Sure! Seattle designer Riley Raker, whose firm designed some of the symbols on our light rail’s maps, thought our city’s flag was so meh that he redesigned it for fun about a year ago.

Seattle’s flag is not exactly a favorite. As reader Benjamin Lukoff pointed out to us, Gizmodo listed it in a post called Are These the Ugliest Flags on Earth? in a section titled, “Trying too hard.”

“I follow a subreddit all about vexillology” — a.k.a. the study of flags, Riley told us. “I thought the flag could be simplified and bring Chief Seattle forward in the design.”

Wanna see Riley’s design blowing in the wind? Check it out in this nifty flag simulator.

Have your own ideas for what our city flag should look like? Design your own — or have your kiddos draw one up — and share a photo of it in our Facebook thread.