Californian Cities Symbolism: Look at The Flags

Amancay Tapia
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The history of the United States can be dated from as far back as 15,000 BC with the arrival of the first people of the Americas who formed a variey of indigenous cultures. The Europeans arrived in the late 15th century, and the majority of the colonies of what would become the United States were settled after 1600. Let's look at the case of Spain influence in the history of the country.

The southern European nation played a key role in supporting the American revolution by providing money, supplies and munition to American forces and attacking British forts in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Its legacy in the United States lasted over 300 years and it left an important influence. Particularly in California where the state flags pay homage to the Spanish influence.

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles flag is a testimony to the Spanish influence. The olives, grapes and oranges in the coat of arms are surrounded by a rosary of 77 beads in reference to the Spanish missions in California.

The city was founded in 1781 by Felipe de Neve, a Spanish army man who called the city “El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Ángeles”. L.A was pretty much a Spanish city until 1821 when Mexico achieved its independence from Spain and California remained under Mexican control.

San Diego

The red and golden colours of the San Diego flag pay homage to the red and yellow of the Spanish flag, and the year the city was founded, 1542. 

It was in 1542 when Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, became the first European to enter the San Diego Bay and claimed the area for Spain.

In the coat of arms of the flag there is a caravel, representing the territory exploration done by the Spanish. The bell at the top represents the founders of the mission, and the Pillars of Hercules, represent the old Spanish territorial jurisdiction.


This Californian city has a simple flag where Spanish legacy is also present. There is a symbol described as a native American “rain cross”. Inside, there is a reference to the Spanish presence in the symbol of the bell, which is also used to illustrate the seal of the city.

The bell recalls the numerous missions that the Spanish made throughout the “Camino Real” of Alta California, and the “rain cross” makes it clear that it was the native Americans the ones who first inhabited Riverside. 


The flag of Cupertino, Apple Silicon Valley’s headquarters, shows the helmet of Spanish explorers.

The territory where Cupertino currently is, was claimed by the Spanish in 1776 by Juan Bautista de Anza. A popular name for Cupertino residents passing by De Anza Boulevard in the heart of the technology city. 

Regarding symbols, the flag and the seal make reference to the Spanish legacy in Cupertino as they show a morion ( a type of open helmet originally from the Kingdom of Castile in Spain). 

In the 1970’s, the city made a sculpture to commemorate the legacy of Anza and they chose this type of helmet as the central element of the monument. It was then that the morion became the official symbol of Cupertino.

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