The City of Allegheny established its official flag just days before being annexed by the City of Pittsburgh. The flag’s design was selected from among 205 designs submitted by school children in a contest. A prize of $50 was awarded to the winner, Helen Meister. That’s more than $1,000 in today’s dollars. The Allegheny City Flag available for sale was inspired by that original design.
The official seal of Allegheny City was the brain child of the city’s first mayor, Gen. William Robinson Jr. But it was an Allegheny school girl who designed the city’s official flag.
Mayor Robinson provided the idea for the seal shortly after the city was born back in 1840. The flag came into being 67 years later when council accepted the school girl’s prize-winning design and passed legislation establishing the flag.
The story of Allegheny’s flag is found in the long forgotten records of the now defunct city.
An ordinance of June 24, 1907 reads: “Whereas, the City of Allegheny having no official flag, and, Whereas, Charles F. Kirschler, mayor of said city, did offer a prize of fifty ($50) dollars for the best design of a flag, and, Whereas, two hundred and five (205) designs were furnished by the school children of said city, under and in accordance with conditions made public, and Whereas, Hon. John D. Shafer, Joseph A. O’Neil and John A. Brashear, the judges appointed by said mayor to make the award in said flag contest, did award the first prize to Miss Helen M. Meister, a pupil of the Thirteenth Ward School, therefore.
“Section 1. Be It ordained and enacted by the Select and Common Council of the City of Allegheny, and it is hereby ordained and enacted by the authority of the same, that from and after passage of this ordinance the official flag of the City of Allegheny shall be nine (9) feet in width and sixteen (16) in length and shall consist of three (3) horizontal stripes, the first, of top stripe shall be red, the second or middle stripe shall be white and the third or bottom stripe shall be blue. All words appearing on said flag shall be in block letters.
“The word ‘Allegheny’ shall appear in white on the first stripe, and such letters shall be in white, and in height one third the width of the stripe.
“On the bottom stripe, there shall appear the numerals ‘1840’ in white block numerals, the height being one third of the width of the stripe.
“On one side of the middle stripe between the circle and the hoist, there shall appear eight (8) stars, and on the opposite side of the same stripe between the circle and the end of the flag there shall appear seven (7) stars; which stars shall be five pointed, the points of which shall form a circle within a diameter equal to one fourth of the width of the stripe.
“The flag above described being in accordance with the design furnished by said Helen M. Meister.”
Allegheny’s flag was displayed for the first time on the City Hall at Ohio and Federal streets on July 4, 1907, just eight days after the city lost its identity through annexation. And, in December of 1907, the flag made its last official appearance when it was carried by one of Allegheny’s city fathers when they marched to Pittsburgh’s City Hall for the ceremony that marked Allegheny’s end as a city.