Happy Birthday to our City Seal

You’ve seen it all over town. On buildings, municipal vehicles, City Council Chambers, official city documents, city flags, and even on the stainless steel sculpture “Filmstrip U.S.A.” in front of the Veterans Memorial Building. But did you know that this seal has been used for 80 years?                                                                                The city seal

On August 3, 1936, by Ordinance No. 453, the City adopted the current official city seal. The ordinance required that “the imprint thereof shall hereafter be impressed upon all official documents in place of the Seal heretofore used, and an enlarged copy of said Seal shall be placed on all motor equipment owned and operated by the City of Culver City.” This ordinance also stated “Around the outer edge shall appear the words, City of Culver City, Incorporated 1917,” and in the center thereof shall appear the inscription ‘Heart of Screenland,’ which inscription shall run through the center of a Shield; in the upper left hand corner shall be depicted motion picture camera equipment indicative of the present major industry in the City of Culver City; in the lower left hand corner of said Shield, shall be depicted a representation of the Golden Bear, emblematic of the State of California; in the upper right hand corner a representation of the rising sun; and in the lower right hand corner shall be depicted a sprig of lantana, the official flower of the City of Culver City.”

That ordinance cited above, signed by Mayor Frank H. Dobson, also included a further description of the seal. It called for unequal sized sections of the shield, with the upper left and lower right being about double the size of the others. It even specified that “the motion picture camera equipment in the upper left hand quarter includes a cameraman upon a wheeled camera dolly, a klieg light turned on, and a reflector screen. The stylized sun in the upper right hand quarter is about 2/3 risen above ground level, and displays seven rays.” The colors are also defined, calling for the upper left illustration “in powder blue and white with the linework in black.” The golden sun is to be upon a “dark blue field.” The city flower, the lantana, was to be illustrated in red with green leaves.

Our seal serves as more than a civic identifier, but also as a communal unifier. That it celebrates 80 years this year is a testament to our city’s tradition and history that we hold close.

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