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What are the Standard Dimensions of an American Flag?

The overall shape and proportions of the American flag are pretty iconic. Despite the number of interpretations we’ve all seen in the media, there is a right way to make an American flag. There is a lot more history behind the rectangular shape than you might think. Flags and banners have been all kinds of shapes and sizes throughout history, and the dimensions of our beautiful symbol for democracy and freedom are not random at all. 

 

Windy Origins

Did you know the origins of flags are completely unknown? Historians say they likely stemmed from ancient Egypt and maybe India or China over 3,000 years ago. Most of them were triangular and used in militaries but didn’t yet represent nations. That came later on. Nepal's modern flag is particularly interesting because of the two conjoining triangles that symbolize the mountains of Nepal. This is one of the rare flags that are not rectangular.

 

Vexillum

America was clearly inspired by other European flags of the now-familiar rectangular shape. But where did they get that shape from? Enter the Romans with their square military flags known as Vexillum. Just like the American flag today, these smaller flags were highly valued in the Roman army, and their safekeeping was a big priority to them. 


Vexillum are commonly looked at as kind of a forerunner of modern flags, but they were still purely used by the military. Interestingly, Vexillology is the study of flags, and the term is derived from Vexillum. It’s incredible to think that the Romans thousands of years ago treated their symbols so similarly to our own flag today. 


Militaries throughout history needed methods of communication and easy ways of telling who was friend and who was foe. Square and rectangular banners were a solid choice. Flags were easy to hoist up and carry around. When nations became more sea-faring with large ships, they ran into a small problem: wind.


This natural phenomenon was the driving force behind the creation of the modern, rectangular flag. Rectangular flags flew much better in the wind compared to square flags or any other shapes. Early European navies were a driving force behind the creation of our flag. Can you imagine if the United States had anything different? 


US History

Did you know the Star-Spangled Banner is not just a song; it’s one of America’s earliest flags! The original was commissioned by Major George Armistead and made by Mary Pickersgill in 1813. The final product was 30 feet by 42 feet. After the Battle of Baltimore, the flag's dimensions were reduced to 30 feet by 34 feet. It can still be seen today at the Smithsonian. 

 

Modern US Flags

Flags can be bought in almost any shape or size today, but the true aspect ratio is 3:5. Here at Allegiance Flag Supply, we make sure every flag we manufacture is in accordance with the traditional dimensions. Why settle for something made overseas that may or may not be correct? 

 

The Classic

The 3’x5’ Pre-Assembled set Allegiance offers is absolutely perfect for sharing your patriotism with your neighborhood and guests. An American home just doesn't look quite right without an American flag hung on the front porch. It adds a feeling of comfort and security to any house. With expert craftsmanship and quality materials, these flags will last a lifetime. 


This set has everything you need. It includes a beautiful wood flag pole with a protective coating that will get you through the harshest weather. The included flag pole spinners are as functional as they are beautiful. No tangles in your flag from now on! Other manufacturers skimp out on their flagpole brackets with polymers and low-quality metals. Not Allegiance. Their brackets are made of cast iron, and they’re not letting go of your flag any time soon. 


There’s also a set with everything except the bracket. This set is awesome if you're looking to replace a flag you already have on your home, and the bracket is already installed. The 3’x5’ is an American classic with soul. 

 

The Upgrade

The 4’x6’ flag that Allegiance has is a nice bump up in size if your home is a little larger. It would also be an amazing addition to your truck, especially two side by side, flying in the wind. And because of how strong Allegiance makes their flags with high-quality materials, you know it won’t tatter in the wind. 


And is anything cooler than seeing a big, bright American flag on the back of a motorcycle? A big part of America’s identity is our highway system. Seeing groups of friends riding Harleys down the road is a fun piece of our culture. It’s a reminder of our freedom and ability to go and do whatever we want, and waving a big American flag is an acknowledgment of that.

 

The Big One

If you’re looking for a very prestigious flag for casual ceremonies, sporting events, or anything involving a community of fellow Americans, the 5’x8’ flag is just what you’re looking for! This size is similar to official Storm flags that are used at Army bases during stormy weather. 


These flags offered by Allegiance make a great gift for US military fans or former service members. They are a great addition to a home or property if you’re really looking to impress. And because of the construction quality, the 5’x8’ flags flow in the wind with just a little bit of extra grace. 

 

Aquatic Allegiance

The Boat Flag Set available at Allegiance Flag Supply is an absolute must if you have a boat. How many times have you been boating and have seen fellow Americans flying torn and ripped flags? If you buy from Allegiance, this won’t happen to your flag. No matter the winds that day, the Allegiance flags tough it out.


Allegiance offers a set that comes with everything you need, and it comes in two great sizes; 12”x18” and 16”x24”. Neither freshwater nor saltwater is going to hurt this flag. You’re not going to have to buy new ones every summer because they got a little wet. Any boat flag worth its salt won’t fall to pieces with a little splash. 

 

Superflag

There have been many flags displayed around the country throughout history. Many of the larger ones have been displayed at Presidential inaugurations, baseball games, and military parades. But have you ever wondered how big the largest American flags are?


The largest flag ever to be flown was named the Superflag. It was only flown once at Hoover Dam when the Olympic Torch was being carried through there on its way to Atlanta. The flag was an astounding 225 feet tall, 505 feet wide, and weighed 3,000 pounds. The picture of it being flown in front of the dam doesn’t even look real. 


The largest American flag still being flown today is called Big Betsy and can be found in Utah. Big Betsy does travel around to make appearances at all kinds of public events. To give you a sense of scale, the flag takes up the better part of a football field when fully unwrapped.


These flags are privately owned, and it takes literally hundreds of people to properly handle them. They can easily cover an average American home entirely. Big Betsy takes up 11,800 square feet and is flown over a 600-foot canyon in Utah every year for the 4th of July. 

 

In Summary

When the states were still being shaped, the silhouette of our flag remained pretty much the same. Luckily, American quality goods only got better. “Made in America” means a lot today. When you see that tag, you know you’re buying quality. 


Foreign-made flags are much more likely to rip and tear on you and might even contain inks that fade easily. When shopping for an American flag, it’s particularly important to look for one that was actually made in the United States. Take a second to think about how many items you own that were actually made in the States. 


It’s not very reassuring when you can actually see through your flag when it’s backlit. It means the material is too thin. The flag's colors should glow more vibrantly behind the sun instead of being pierced. The making of our flag needs to be done with respect and attention to detail.


Allegiance Flag Supply is one of the few companies that make American flags today by hand in the United States. When you buy a flag from us, you’re not just buying a piece of cloth; you’re contributing to patriotic, working families and recognizing the value of American craftsmanship. Get yours today and display it with pride and confidence.  

 

Sources: 

 

Was the World's Largest US Flag Displayed at Hoover Dam? | Snopes

flag | Origins, Forms, & Functions | Britannica

Vexillum and Victory | JSTOR

The Largest Free-Flying Flag In America Is Right Here In Utah And You're Going To Want To Catch A Glimpse | Only in Your State