Buffalo Flag

The History of the flag of Buffalo.

In 1922 the Mayor of Buffalo, Francis X. Schwab made it known that he didn’t believe that the city’s current flag did the city of Buffalo any justice. With that, he proposed a contest to create a new design that did a better job representing the spirit of Buffalo.

If anyone knew the spirit of Buffalo, it was Mayor Schwab. He ran his own brewery, the Broadway Brewing Company, and when the 18th Amendment was enacted in January of 1920 he merged multiple breweries in Buffalo in order to produce “near beer”. It’s known that Buffalo was very relaxed when it came to enforcing federal prohibition laws, especially during Schwab’s terms as mayor. It was said that “beer flowed as freely in Buffalo as it did before [prohibition] was enacted.” Freely it flowed indeed, thanks to Francis Schwab’s own brewing (illegal brewing that would lead to his indictment under federal prohibition laws, leading to fines that rumor says; he never planned on paying.)

By 1924, seventy three city of Buffalo flag designs were submitted. The winning flag was designed by Louis Greenstein, who’s other works include the Coplan Mansion (Amherst, NY), Westwood Country Club (Williamsville, NY), and Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium (Buffalo, NY).

Buffalo City Ordinances, Chapter 183-1 States:

“The following described design is hereby established as the official flag of the City of Buffalo, New York:

The flag shall be blue and white, composed of the picture of the Seal of the City of Buffalo and enclosed by two (2) concentric circles with thirteen (13) radial electric flashes extending outward from the outer circle and thirteen (13) five-pointed stars, one (1) between each two (2) electric flashes; all of the above objects to be in white upon a dark blue field.”

The seal of the city is a ship approaching a lighthouse in the harbor, while the thirteen stars display the fact that New York was one of the original thirteen colonies. Each of the electric flashes signifies Buffalo as one of the first cities with widespread electricity.

That was Greenstein’s design, and Mayor Schwab stated that “The flag illustrates the zeal behind the spirit of Buffalo. It signifies the love and admiration which Buffalonians have for their city.”