Tampa, FL

What is This? The City of Tampa Flag.

Modern Globe

City of Tampa flag.Photo byCity of Tampa

Did you know the City of Tampa has its own flag? It’s symbolic, original and full of history. It’s also almost over 100-years-old. Here’s the colorful history of the City of Tampa Flag.

A brief history of the City of Tampa

Initial Spanish exploration of the Tampa area started as early as 1528. They traveled along the coasts of Florida, exploring and learning about the state’s vast natural resources. By 1973, England had purchased the Florida territory from Spain. Colonization and commerce in the Tampa area were encouraged by the British until the Florida territory was purchased by the newly formed United States in 1821.

Related: What is this? The statue of Roland Mantiega

Just three years later, Fort Brook was established as a U.S. military base at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. Its original purpose was to serve as a check on and trading post for the native Seminoles. It quickly attracted people as an area of commerce and culture.

The City of Tampa was officially founded on July 15, 1887. It was organized under a special act of the Florida Legislature abolishing the governments of the Town of Tampa and Town of North Tampa and establishing the charter for the City of Tampa. However, the City of Tampa Flag wasn’t adopted by the city on July 1, 1930.

The City of Tampa Flag

Here is how Tampa’s flag reflects its unique history:

Five countries

There are a lot of colors in the City of Tampa Flag. That’s because the flag has representation from the five countries that helped establish the city. On the flag you can see the Red, white, and blue for the Stars and Stripes and the British Union Jack. There’s also red and gold to represent Spain, red, white and green for Italy and the French tricolor. All these countries contributed to the growth of Florida.

Two hidden letters

At first glance, the City of Tampa Flag may look like a bunch of random lines. However, within the flag there are two letters that represent the area. The letter “H” is creatively disguised and made up of the representations of the flags of France and Spain and represents Hillsborough County. And if you turn the flag sideways, you can see the letter “T” which stands for Tampa.

A seal in the center

In the center of the flag is the official seal of Tampa. The seal features the steamship Mascotte, which was owned by Henry B. Plant and was named after the operetta La mascotte by Edmond Audran. The ship ran between Tampa, Key West, and Cuba from the mid-1880s until the early 1900s. It brought thousands of immigrants and regular shipments of Havana tobacco to Ybor City and West Tampa.

The ugliest flag in America?

However, not everyone is in love the City of Tampa Flag. The Tampa Bay Times ran a story back in 2017 where locals called the flag “a mess,” and “funky,” and “god-awful.” It also compared the flag to the flag of St. Pete that may look a little dated but is at least recognizable with a simpler design. St. Pete also uses their flag design on everything from recycling bins to storm sewer covers. Although the City of Tampa Flag does a good job of representing the many influences of Florida, the design could be cleaner.

The flag’s 100th birthday is coming up 8 years. Maybe it’s time for a face-lift.

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