Last modified: 2011-10-21 by rick wyatt
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image by Dov Gutterman, 12 April 1999
This is the city of Scranton's Official Flag. The building in the flag is a known as a coal breaker.
Dov Gutterman, 12 April 1999
The local historian and columnist Cheryl A. Kashuba related the history of the flag of Scranton in "The Times-Tribune", 10 June 2007, as follows:
"The Jamestown Exposition of 1907 celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first permanent English settlement in America. It proved that humbler things than the Eiffel Tower could come out of such a grand event. A city flag did. In March of that year, Scranton’s Mayor Benjamin Dimmick received a letter from the Jamestown Exposition’s officials, asking for a city flag so Scranton could be represented in the flag gallery of Unites States cities. The mayor knew of no such flag, and an investigation quickly determined that, in fact, Scranton had never adopted a city flag. When The Times heard of the request from Jamestown, it saw the opportunity to start a contest. A prize of $20 would be awarded to the individual who came up with the best design. Running from March 21 to April 1, the contest was open to any resident of Lackawanna County. Mayor Dimmick, Chairman of Select Council O.B. Partridge, and Chairman of Common Council John Thomas served as judges.Therefore, the flag shown above seems to be the 1907 flag, which is no longer the official flag. A better, non floating image of the old flag, including the name of the town, after a post card, can be seen on the Lackawanna County PAGen website: www.rootsweb.com/~palackaw/. A smaller copy of the same image can be seen on the Scranton Anthracite Museum Home Page: www.anthracitemuseum.org/.
Victor Burschel, of Dunmore, took the prize. His design emphasizes the era’s industrial character, featuring a white ground with a colliery in the center, a powerhouse with four smokestacks, and a locomotive. The word “Scranton” is intertwined in a wreath of laurels. The date 1886 commemorates the incorporation of the city. Burschel divided his prize money between two charities: St. Joseph’s Foundling Home and the Home for the Friendless. Officially adopted in April 1907, the flag made an appearance at the New York World’s Fair and was carried to Harrisburg in 1923 by a large group of citizens who rode a special train to attend a hearing on the Davis-Fowler mine cave law. After that, the flag went missing for thirteen years. In 1936, Councilman Peter O’Donnell began a search, and City Hall employees found the flag stowed away with some old assessment records in the attic.
The standard served Scranton well for many years. In 1966, as the city prepared for its centennial celebration, the Scranton Association, official organizer of all centennial celebration activities, sponsored a new contest. “The present seal is reminiscent of the city’s past, but hardly representative of her modern present or promising future,” said Ellis Oppenheim, Scranton Association president. One of the rules stipulated that the design “should be of a classic nature so as not to become quickly outmoded.” William Kozy won the contest. His clean, uncluttered design features a fern leaf (undoubtedly to remind us that coal is a fossil fuel) and two atomic-age symbols, surrounded by the city’s name and date of incorporation.