Flag of Chicago facts for kids
|Adopted||Original, 1917; additional stars added, 1933 and 1939.|
|Design||Argent four mullets of six points gules in fess between two bars bleu de ciel.|
|Designed by||Wallace Rice|
The flag of Chicago consists of two light sky blue horizontal bars, or stripes, on a field of white, each bar one-sixth the height of the full flag, and placed slightly less than one-sixth of the way from the top and bottom. Four bright red stars, with six sharp points each, are set side by side, close together, in the middle third of the surface of the flag.
The City of Chicago's flag was adopted in 1917 after the design by Wallace Rice won a City Council sponsored competition. It initially had two stars, until 1933 when a third was added. The four-star version has existed since 1939. The three sections of the white field and the two bars 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 the establishment of Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933–34.
In a review by the 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, D.C.
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 stripe represents 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. 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 civic pride.
- The third star symbolizes the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, and is original to the 1917 design. Its six points stand for political entities 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 Exposition (1933–1934), 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.
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 be added to the city flag in honor of the city's place in the history of the nuclear age. On another occasion, a star was proposed in honor of Harold Washington, the first African-American mayor of Chicago. A fifth star was also discussed following the Chicago Flood of 1992. 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. 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 might have been added to the flag; however, the Olympic bid was lost to Rio de Janeiro. In a more facetious vein, a fifth star has been proposed if the Chicago Cubs should win the World Series, which did not happen from 1908 to 2016.
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.
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.
- "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.
Images for kids
Kitty Kelly holding Flag of Chicago from the Chicago Tribune, 1921. Note the two stars on the flag at the time.
Flag of Chicago Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.