Proportions: 3:5 (usage)
Adopted: 1946 (official status uncertain)
DESIGN: Norfolk’s flag is a horizontal tribar of equal blue, gold, and blue stripes. In the center of the gold stripe is the city seal in blue and gold on a white background, separating two inscriptions, Norfolk on the left, and Virginia on the right, both in Old English script in blue. The primary element of the seal is a fully rigged sailing ship in the upper portion, sailing toward the fly. Below, past a shoreline, is a farmer’s plow. At the base is a group of three wheat sheaves. The motto ET TERRA ET MARE DIVITIAE TUAE forms a semicircle surrounding the ship and CRESCAS appears below the sheaves of wheat. This Latin motto has been translated as “Your riches on both land and sea— may they increase”. The images and letters in the top half are dark blue, those in the bottom half are gold, all on a white background. In a ring enclosed by inner and outer circles are inscriptions separated by dashes: TOWN 1682—BOROUGH 1736—CITY 1845 (upper), and CITY OF NORFOLK, VIRGINIA (lower).
SYMBOLISM: Navy blue emphasizes Norfolk’s status as home to the world’s largest naval base. Gold is for the riches of the land. The Old English inscription font reminds viewers of Norfolk’s origins in England. The ship in the seal reflects Norfolk’s ties to the Navy and the role of commerce in Norfolk’s prosperity. Sheaves of wheat and the plow highlight agriculture’s importance in the settlement and current economy of Virginia. The dates refer to Norfolk’s founding as a town (1682), its charter as a borough (1736), and its recognition as a city (1845).
HOW SELECTED: Introduced by the Norfolk Advertising Board. The flag has been used since 1946. The seal, similar to the previous seal, was adopted by the board of aldermen in March 1913.
DESIGNER: A committee of the advertising board consisting of City Clerk John D. Corbell, Board Manager Francis E. Turin, W. M. Bott, and Charles A. Morrisette (an artist who painted the first draft).
FORMER FLAG: As a borough, Norfolk at one time had an earlier flag. This flag features, in the fly, an allegorical scene of a classically dressed Virginia, extending her hand in welcome to Norfolk, dressed as a daughter of the sea, rising to accept her greeting. Above, a phoenix flies toward the sun. Latin mottoes appear above, Deo Juvante Resurgam (“Destroyed in youth, I shall rise again with God’s help”), and below, Norfolk Reflorescens (“Norfolk flourishes again”). On the reverse is a sailing ship with an inscription, Norfolk, Sept. 1836. Miscellaneous symbols are Norfolk’s official flower, the crape myrtle, and its mace (the only original city mace in the United States, presented to Norfolk by Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie in 1753). None of the available descriptions of this flag mentions its colors.