Kalamazoo, Michigan, City Flag History

Jun 12th, 2017

Kalamazoo is located in Southwest Michigan. The first white settler, Titus Bronson, arrived in 1829, and laid out the town in 1831, and named it the village of Bronson. The name of the village was changed to Kalamazoo in 1836 after Bronson disgraced himself and was ran out of town. The village was incorporated in 1838, and incorporated as a city in 1883. Kalamazoo adopted an official flag in 1931.



A city flag design contest was held in 1931. The winning entry was created by John Toornman, an employee of Henderson-Ames Company. The meaning of the city flag features are set out in the Kalamazoo City Code:


*     Upper Left Quarter of Shield: Religion

*     Upper Right Quarter of Shield: Celery (Kalamazoo’s main agricultural product)

*     Lower Left Quarter of Shield: Industry

*     Lower Right Quarter of Shield: Education

*     Live Oak Wreath: Growth

*     Red, White and Blue: Colors from the national emblem


In addition to setting out the flag design, the City Code makes it unlawful to use the flag for advertising, or to add inscriptions, lettering or any other device to the flag. There are no other references in the City Code related to the city flag.


In 2004, the North American Vexillological Association, NAVA, conducted The American City Flag Survey. Kalamazoo’s flag was not among the 150 flags that were surveyed, but it would most likely not have ranked very high. Most flags that contained a seal ranked much lower in the NAVA survey than those that were designed based on the basic principles of good flag design.


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