The colors of the flag are derived primarily from the coat of arms of the city of Amsterdam, or rather from the shield in it. The meaning of the colors is unclear. According to the city government, its origin could go back to the coat of arms of the Persijn family, which once owned a large tract of land in the capital. These colors as well as the crosses are to be seen in the flags of both Ouder-Amstel and Amstelveen.
In the coats of arms of two other Dutch cities, Dordrecht and Delft, the middle stripe symbolises water. In regards to Amsterdam, this black strip becomes the River Amstel.