Chicago, Illinois, City Flag History

Dec 29th, 2016

Chicago City Flag


Chicago was founded in 1833, and became a city in 1837 after it reached a population of 4,000. It is located along the shoreline of Lake Michigan in the Midwest. Chicago is the third largest city in the United States.


Mayor William Hale Thompson created a municipal flag commission in 1915 to hold a public competition for a city flag design. Wallace Rice won the competition, and the city council adopted his design in 1917.


Chicago Original


Rice’s design featured two stars. In 1933 and 1939, the city amended the flag by adding a total of two additional stars.


The following meanings have been assigned to the design by legend:


·         Stripes: The white stripes represent the North, South and West sides of the city.

·         First Star: Fort Dearborn.

·         Second Star: The great Chicago fire of 1871. The six points represent

·         Third Star: The 1893 World Columbia Exposition

·         Fourth Star: The 1933-1934 Century of Progress Exposition.

·         Top Blue Stripe: Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, north branch

·         Bottom Blue Stripe: Chicago River, south branch, and the Great Canal.


Several different meanings have been assigned by legend to the six points of the stars, but since they conflict with the order and meaning, will not be mentioned in this article. The city flag design is described in the Chicago Municipal Code, 1-8-030:


The municipal flag shall be white, with two blue bars, each taking up a sixth of its space, and set a little less than one-sixth of the way from the top and bottom of the flag, respectively.


There shall be four bright red stars with sharp points, six in number, set side by side, close together, next to the staff in the middle third of the surface of the flag. The said red stars on the municipal flag shall be designated from the hoist outwards as follows: Fort Dearborn; The Great Chicago Fire of October 8-10, 1871; The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893; The Century of Progress of 1933.


The proportions of the municipal flag and standard shall be preferably two in height to three in breadth, or three in height to five in breadth, in banners to be borne by hand, and as one to two in flags to be flown from masts and staffs, or in any of the dimensions officially prescribed for the national ensign by the government of the United States. When suspended from windows or over a street, the municipal flag may be pointed or notched. The municipal standard shall be made of silk, and be fringed with gold. (Prior code 2-3)”


Over the years, proposals have been made to add more stars to the city flag for a variety of reasons. Not one of those proposals succeeded in gaining to approval to change the official flag design.


In 2004, the North American Vexillological Association conducted The American City Flag Survey. Chicago’s flag ranked 2nd out of 150 flags.


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