Vexillology Wiki

This page is about New York State. There is another page for New York City.

On April 8, 1896, the New York state legislature adopted a law making the coat of arms on a buff field the official state flag. The buff field was chosen because Major Asa Gardiner, the main proponent of the flag, argued that it should be of the facing color of uniform worn by troops. George Washington had ordered that troops from New York and New Jersey serving in the Continental Army wear buff facings.  However, the buff flag was unpopular, since the actual and more familiar custom at the time was for military flags to be blue with the coat of arms, as they had been for New York troops during and before the Civil War. Thus, the legislature changed the field from buff to blue by a law enacted on April 2, 1901.

The coat of arms as depicted on the flag has several minor differences from that on the state seal, or as it is shown in paintings for non-flag use. These are mainly in the treatment of the sun (squared off rays, no face on the disk) and in the simplification of the color palette for flag manufacture. [Text from FotW]

The coat of arms of the state flag was adopted in 1778 and the present flag is a modern version of a Revolutionary War regimental flag. The original is at the Albany Institute of History & Art.

In 2001, the North American Vexillological Association surveyed its members on the designs of the 72 U.S. state, U.S. territorial, and Canadian provincial flags. After the survey was completed, NAVA members chose the flag of New York to be ranked 53rd out of the 72.

In April 2020, the flag was modified to include "E PLURIBUS UNUM" on the coat of arms after a push was made by Governor Andrew Cuomo to send a unifying message in light of racial tensions following the death of George Floyd.

Proposals for a new flag of New York State[]

Shown below are various designs that have been proposed for a new New York State flag.

Additional Flags of New York[]


The Prinsenvlag[]


A large number of designs use the colors orange, white, and blue. These come from the Prinsenvlag (Prince's Flag), a Dutch flag first used in the Dutch Revolt during the late 16th century. The colors were first used by Prince William the Silent of Orange-Nassau. It served as the flag of the Netherlands until it was gradually replaced by the present design, with red instead of orange, in the mid-1600s. This is relevant to New York because the colony was founded by the Netherlands. It was called New Netherland from 1614 to 1674. New York City and Albany both use municipal flags based on the Prinsenvlag as a way to commemorate this colonial heritage.

The White Rose of York[]

WhiteRose ofYork Symmetric.png

The White Rose of York is a white heraldic rose which was adopted in the 14th century as an heraldic badge of the royal House of York. In modern times it is used more broadly as a symbol of the county of Yorkshire. New York takes its name from James, Duke of York, later King James II of England. In flag redesigns, the White Rose is intended to commemorate this connection.