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Municipal Flag of Chicago

The municipal flag of Chicago consists of two blue horizontal stripes 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 or bottom, respectively. Between the two blue stripes are four red, six-pointed stars arranged in a horizontal row.

In a review by the North American Vexillological Association of 150 American city flags, the Chicago city flag came in 2nd with a rating of 9.03 out of 10, behind only the flag of Washington, D.C..[1]

Chicago flag beneath the Illinois state flag at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Contents

Symbolism

Stripes

The three white stripes of the flag represent, from top to bottom, the North, West and South sides of the city. The top blue stripe represents Lake Michigan and the North Branch of the Chicago River. The bottom blue stripe represents the South Branch of the Chicago River and the Great Canal. [1]

Stars

The four red six-pointed stars on the center white stripe, from left to right (although this is not the order in which they were added to the flag):

  • 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.[2]
  • 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 civic pride.[3]
  • The fourth star represents the Century of Progress Exposition (1833-1933), and was added in 1933. Its points refer to bragging rights: the United States' 2nd Largest City (became 3rd largest in 1990 census when passed by L.A.), Chicago's Latin Motto (Urbs in horto - City in a garden), Chicago's "I Will" Motto, Great Central Marketplace, Wonder City, Convention City.[5]

A possible fifth star has been proposed for the city flag on more than one occasion. The first occasion occurred in the 1940s when a letter to the Chicago Tribune asked that a fifth star to be added to the city flag in honor of going to the nuclear age.[6] On another occasion, it was proposed in honor of Harold Washington, the first African-American mayor of Chicago. A fifth star was discussed for the Chicago Flood that occurred in 1992. A proposal was put forward by the 2016 Olympic Games Bid Committee; if the bid to host the games had been successful, a fifth star may have been added to the flag,[7] however the Olympic bid was lost to Rio de Janeiro.

History

In 1915, Mayor 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.

References

External links

Further reading

  • "Art and Architecture: How the Chicago Municipal Flag Came to be Chosen", 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.







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