Pop Chart Lab surveyed 247 years of the American flag's design evolution in one poster.

From the Sons of Liberty's rebellious stripes in 1767 to the pattern we know today, there are 48 flags in all.

Underneath each flag, the poster notes how many states existed in the country at that time.

The stars and stripes have presented a design challenge over the years: How do you represent an ever-growing number of states?

Here, some flag variations when there were 13 states.

The 50-star flag we use today wasn't created until 1960, after Hawaii joined the Union.

And should Puerto Rico ever move to become a state, we’ll need to design the flag anew.

247 Years Of American Flags, Visualized

Manifest Destiny as design challenge.

During more than 200 years of American history, the United States flag has undergone near-constant transformation. The prolific infographic designers at Pop Chart Lab condensed 247 years of the American flag's design evolution into one poster—from the Sons of Liberty's rebellious stripes in 1767 to the pattern we know today. In total, the chart surveys 48 flags (no confederate flags included), noting underneath each row the number of states in the country at the time of the flag's inception.

Click to enlarge

Though the design of the poster itself is not particularly groundbreaking, it documents the great design challenge the stars and stripes (in conjunction with a national obsession with Manifest Destiny) have posed over the past few centuries: How do you represent an ever-growing number of states? In 1861, for instance, when America consisted of 34 states, there were four variations on the flag. One, the "Great Flower," arranged the 34 stars in a starfish-shaped pattern. Another clustered them together like five dots on the side of a die. Still another used a diamond pattern that kind of looks like a crab. With every new batch of states added, the stars had to be rearranged. The 50-star flag we use today wasn't created until 1960, after Hawaii joined the Union.

It's not a closed issue, either. People have already prepped designs for a 51-star flag, in the event that Puerto Rico becomes a state. For a country with a substantial taste for expansionist policy, you'd think we'd have picked a more flexible design.

Get the poster from Pop Chart Lab.

[Image: These Colors Do Not Run via Flickr user Don...The UpNorth Memories Guy]

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1 Comments

  • dave3up

    So how does the flag pictured in the newsletter with the young lady holding it fit in? It has seven stars horizontally and what appear to be seven vertically in a square pattern for a total of 49, but the 49-star flag in the slide show has staggered rows. Which is right and which is wrong?