The flag of
Chicago consists of two blue horizontal stripes or bars on
a field of white, each stripe one-sixth the height of the full flag,
and placed slightly less than one-sixth of the way from the top and
bottom. Between the two blue stripes are four red, six-pointed stars
arranged in a horizontal row.
The flag, designed by Wallace Rice, was adopted in 1917 after Rice won
the design competition for the flag. The three sections of the white
field and the two stripes represent geographical features of the city,
the stars symbolize historical events, and the points of the stars
represent important virtues or concepts. The historic events
represented by the stars are Fort Dearborn, the Great
Chicago Fire of
World's Columbian Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Century of
Progress Exposition of 1933–34.
In a review by the
North American Vexillological Association
North American Vexillological Association of 150
American city flags, the
Chicago city flag was ranked second best with
a rating of 9.03 out of 10, behind only the flag of Washington,
4 Further reading
5 External links
The three white background areas of the flag represent, from top to
bottom, the North, West and South sides of the city. The top blue
Lake Michigan and the North Branch of the Chicago
River. The bottom blue stripe represents the South Branch of the river
and the "Great Canal", over the
Chicago Portage. The lighter blue
on the flag is variously called sky blue or pale blue; in a 1917
article of a speech by Rice, it was called "the color of water".
There are four red six-pointed stars on the center white stripe.
Six-pointed stars are used because five-pointed stars represent
sovereign states, and because the star as designed was not found on
any other known flags as of 1917. From left to right:
The first star represents Fort Dearborn. It was added to the flag in
1939. Its six points symbolize transportation, labor, commerce,
finance, populousness, and salubrity.
The second star stands for the Great
Chicago Fire of 1871, and is
original to the 1917 design of the flag. Its six points represent the
virtues of religion, education, aesthetics, justice, beneficence, and
The third star symbolizes the
World's Columbian Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition of 1893,
and is original to the 1917 design. Its six points stand for political
Chicago has belonged to and the flags that have flown over
the area: France, 1693; Great Britain, 1763; Virginia, 1778; the
Northwest Territory, 1789; Indiana Territory, 1802; and Illinois
(territory, 1809, and state, since 1818).
The fourth star represents the
Century of Progress
Century of Progress Exposition
(1933–34), and was added in 1933. Its points refer to bragging
rights: the United States' second largest city (became third largest
in a 1990 census when passed by Los Angeles); Chicago's Latin motto,
Urbs in horto ("City in a garden"); Chicago's "I Will" motto; the
Great Central Marketplace; Wonder City; and Convention City.
Additional stars have been proposed, with varying degrees of
seriousness. A fifth star could represent Chicago’s contribution to
the nuclear age, an idea first suggested in a 1940s letter published
Chicago Tribune and later championed by Mayor Daley in the
1960s. In the 1980s, a star was proposed in honor of Harold
Washington, the first African-American mayor of Chicago. The
Chicago Flood was suggested as an additional natural disaster
deserving of a star, in line with the existing star
for the 1871 Great
Chicago Fire. Another fifth star was in the works
from a group of
Chicago real estate professionals to represent
Chicago's entrepreneurial spirit in the early 1990s.
Chicago was bidding to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, the Bid
Committee proposed that a fifth star be added to the flag in
commemoration, but the bid was won instead by Rio de Janeiro.
Other sports-related suggestions include recognizing the Chicago
Bulls’ dominance of the NBA in the 1990s and a proposal for a
fifth star if the
Chicago Cubs should ever win the World Series,
which did not happen between their long drought of series wins in
1908, up to 2016.
Flag of Chicago
In 1915, Mayor
William Hale Thompson
William Hale Thompson appointed a municipal flag
commission, chaired by
Alderman James A. Kearnes. Among the commission
members were wealthy industrialist
Charles Deering and impressionist
painter Lawton S. Parker. Parker asked lecturer and poet Wallace Rice
to develop the rules for an open public competition for the best flag
design. Over a thousand entries were received. In the end, the
commission chose the design by
Wallace Rice himself. On April 4, 1917,
the commission's recommendation was accepted by the city council.
^ "2004 American City Flags Survey", North American Vexillological
Association press release, 2 October 2004
^ a b c d e "
Chicago Facts: Municipal Flag".
Chicago Public Library.
^ "Flying Colors: The Best and Worst of Flag Design". Print
^ "Association Sounds Chicago's Call . ."
Chicago Commerce. Chicago
Association of Commerce and Industry. December 6, 1917.
^ Chicago's flag: The history of every star and every stripe, Chicago
Tribune, 13 June, 2016
^ Rice, Wallace; T. E. Whalen (22 July 2005). "
Wallace Rice on Chicago
Stars". introvert.net. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
^ Heise, Kenan (August 15, 1976). "It's a grand old flag. But it could
Chicago Tribune Magazine. p. 34. Retrieved April 14,
^ Whalen, T.E. (January 3, 2006), The Municipal Flag of Chicago:
References (PDF), p. 8
^ a b c Konkol, Mark (June 30, 2015). "The Story of the Rare 5-Star
Chicago Flag That Wasn't Supposed To Exist". My Chicago. DNAinfo.
Archived from the original on June 14, 2017. Retrieved April 14,
^ "Please, A Moratorium On Memorials".
Chicago Tribune. 23 December
1987. Retrieved 18 January 2013. Ald. Raymond Figueroa and others want
a fifth star added to the city's flag in memory of Mr.
Chicago 2016 Newswire (December 14, 2006),
Creatively Try to Bring Home the Bid,
Chicago 2016 Committee, archived
from the original on February 10, 2007, retrieved April 14, 2017
^ a b Rumore, Kori; Marx, Ryan (June 13, 2016). "Chicago's flag: The
history of every star and every stripe".
Chicago Tribune. Retrieved
April 14, 2017.
"Art and Architecture: How the
Chicago Municipal Flag Came to be
Chicago Daily Tribune, July 17, 1921, p. 21.
"City Gets New Flag Today with Third Star for 1933 Fair", Chicago
Daily Tribune, October 9, 1933, p. 7.
Fort Dearborn Gets a Star on Chicago's Flag",
Chicago Daily Tribune,
December 22, 1939. p. 18.
NAVA city flag survey
City of Chicago
Colleges and universities