The current flag of San Francisco was adopted in 1940. It consists of a phoenix rising from a ring of red flames (which looks like a crown) and has a scroll displaying “Or en paz. Fierro en guerra.” (Gold in peace. Iron in war). The city’s name is also below the scroll. Although some may think the phoenix represents the large earthquake and fire that took place in 1906, it was actually on on a previous version of the city’s flag years before that particular event took place. The phoenix may represent the city’s experience with multiple devastating fires from which it was able to regroup and rebuild into a bigger booming metropolis each time. “The City” ’s motto may have meant something different before it was adopted as a motto, but the mayor at the time the original flag was adopted wanted it to reflect the city’s involvement as a primary launching point for troops in the Spanish-American War as well as the area’s heritage as it relates to gold.
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