Flag Day is celebrated to commemorate the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress: “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” While not an official federal holiday, on May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day, and on August 3, 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.
There have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag. The current flag is the longest-serving, dating to July 4, 1960, when Hawaii became the 50th state. So how does one celebrate Flag Day? One way is to fly your flag. Another is to look at the flag, and we have plenty of images in our Historic Image Archive to all you to do so, some going back over a century and a half, many of which tell important stories about our neighborhood, city, and country’s history:
The flag in this image of Bleecker and Carmine Street actually helped us solve the mystery of when and where this picture was taken, as we were able to date the flag here as the one that flew from 1863-1865.
The Civil War did stop the admission of states to the Union. The western part of Virginia was pro-Union and contained many abolitionists. President Lincoln was unsure about dividing Virginia, but he agreed to West Virginia’s admission on the grounds that its action was an act of secession in favor of the Constitution. West Virginia joined the Union on June 20, 1863, and a new flag on July 4 included the 35th state. Click here to read more about how this photo mystery was solved and the history of this site.
This 1928 image in our historic image archive is from the Center for Migration Studies collection, and includes the male parish leadership of Our Lady of Pompeii Church. Father Antonio Demo is seated directly behind the American flag.
Following the tragic events of 9/11, American flags seemed to be everywhere. Below are just a few examples from various 9/11-related collections in our historic image archive. Click here for more.
The following image is part of the Beverly Wallace Collection which is dedicated in memory of Louis “Sonny” DeLuccy (Sonny’s wife), to honor him and others for their sacrifice DeLuccy toiled for months at Ground Zero after the attacks, and within two years died of lung cancer). This image of Ground Zero was taken following the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
This photo from the Robert A. Ripps Collection was taken in the weeks following 9/11 on the northeast corner of East 9th Street and 4th Avenue.
Also from the Beverly Wallace Collection, this image was taken in the days after 9/11 before the remaining steel beams of the towers were removed from Ground Zero.
While Flag Day is all about the American flag, we couldn’t help but highlight some of our other favorite flags:
The rainbow flag – a symbol of love, celebration, and inclusion – has long represented the LGBT fight for equality. Artist Gilbert Baker created the flag in San Francisco in 1978 after Harvey Milk hired him to create flags for the city’s parade. The emerging gay-rights movement had no symbol apart from the pink triangle — and few wanted to rally around a Nazi concentration camp badge. Baker worked with a team of 30 to dye and stitch together strips of fabric to create the flag in the attic of San Francisco’s Gay Community Center. The two original flags had eight stripes each, with hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet descending from the top.
The following two “rainbow flag-inspired” images are from the Robert Fisch Collection, dating froim from gay pride events.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays now has 350 chapters in all 50 states. It all started right here in the Village when Jeanne Manford and others met for the first time at the Church of the Village in March of 1973. On Sunday, June 23, 2013 we honored this group and location with a plaque. Read more:
One of our favorite architects, Ernest Flagg, designed quite a few significant buildings in our neighborhoods such as Firehouse Engine Co. 33 at 44 Great Jones Street, and the rectory of St. Marks-in-the-Bowery Church (where Village Preservation’s offices are located).