Last modified: 2012-05-04 by rick wyatt
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image by Rick Wyatt, 10 June 1999
The flag of Chicago has broader blue stripes and four six-pointed stars all in red. Originally the flag had two stars when it was adopted in 1917. The white stripes represent the North, West and South sides of the city. The two blue stripes symbolize Lake Michigan plus the North Branch of the Chicago River, and South Branch of the Chicago River plus the Great Canal. The symbolism of the stars is complex. Here is how it is described:
The "Fort Dearborn" star was the last
added to the flag in 1938, however when this was done, it was placed in
chronological order so it is the star closest to the hoist. In my ongoing
research, I discovered that the original ordinance designated the star as
representing "The Fort Dearborn Massacre." But as there seem to be questions
about the accuracy and interpretation of the accounts of that incident, the
current information from the City of Chicago simply states that the star
represents the fort itself.
David Breitenbach, http://gwav.tripod.com/issue_10.htm, 19 June 2008
images by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 22 March 2011
Here is the short insert of the original Chicago city flag description and meaning of the original design from 1917 (Chicago Daily Tribune, March 29th, 1917, p.13)
OFFER DESIGN FOR CITY FLAG; WHAT IT MEANSValentin Poposki, 23 September 2007
Design for a Chicago Flag, to be emblematic of a robust municipal ideal, was submitted to the city council yesterday by the Chicago municipal flag commission, appointed by Mayor Thompson eighteen months ago. The commission describes the flag thus:
“Its uppermost stripe, of white, is eight inches broad; the second stripe, of blue, is nine inches; the central bar, of white, is eighteen inches, and the two lower stripes correspond with the uppermost two. Near the staff on the broad white stripe are two six pointed red stars, fourteen inches tall.”
“Viewed locally, the two blue stripes symbolize the Chicago river with its two branches and the three white bars represent the three sides of the city. The red stars stand for the Chicago fire and the World’s fair, two great influences on the city’s history. The six points in the first star stand for transportation, trade, finance, industry, populousness, and healthfulness; those in the second for religion, education, aesthetics, beneficence, justice and civism [sic].”
“Considered nationally, the blue stripes stand for the mountain ranges which flank the plain of which Chicago is the center. The central white bar stands for this plain and the two outer white bars for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.”
The flag was designed by Wallace Rice, 2701 Best avenue."
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 21 March 2009
The original 2-star flag is illustrated on The Great Chicago Fire and Web of Memory page at www.chicagohs.org/fire/commemorate/pic0132.html.
Valentin Poposki, 3 January 2009
Google Books published The Chicago municipal code of 1922. In this code is information regarding the city flag and other types of flags. About the city flag itself (having only two stars at the time), this is what the code has:
1017. The Chicago municipal flag. The Chicago 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 two bright red stars with sharp points, six in number, set side by side, close together, next the staff in the middle third of the surface of the flag.
1023 of the same code mentions the flag can have the ratios of 2x3 or 3x5.
The code also has the following types of flags:
1018. The municipal standard. The municipal standard shall be made of silk and fringed with gold composed of the same colors, hues and parts as provided for in section 1017.
1019. The municipal pennant. The municipal pennant shall be a long streamer showing the two stars on white at the staff, the fly being equally divided, blue and white. For the pennant, the ratios stated in 1023 of the code is either 2x15 or 2x20. There is no mention about the shape of the pennant other than a streamer.
Zachary Harden, 6 March 2011
The "a little less then one-sixth", I've taken as 1/6th again of the width of the bars. The stars I've drawn at the full 1/3rd of the flag's height. This slightly smaller off-set of the bars serves to separate the stars from the bars, and that same margin I used at at the other sides of the stars, though only once between them as they are close together. The sharp points I assumed to refer to the stars being lean. For the blue I used general blue, as there's no indication of a lighter shade at that time.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 22 March 2011
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 22 March 2011
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 22 March 2011
image by Steve Shumaker, 17 June 2008
Used until 1933 when the third star was added to recall the World's Fair in 1933.
Steve Shumaker, 17 June 2008
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 February 2008
This flag got 9.03/10 points in the NAVA American City Flag Survey ranking 2nd among 150. The flag image shown in Kaye (2004) differs in detail from the one at the top of this page: the stars are much larger and the stripes are sized and placed differently: (28+38+84+38+28):324 in vs. ~(2+2+6+2+2):21. All other details — color shades (B- and R+), and shape and position of the stars (thin
and upright) — are identical.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 February 2008
image located by Ned Smith, 26 June 2005
This photo of the Chicago Fire Department flag is unfortunately slightly cropped.
Ned Smith, 26 June 2005
image by Steve Stringfellow, 23 December 1999
This flag is being used by the City of Chicago, Bureau of Tourism, to welcome visitors to Chicago, especially for the year 2000 celebration. The mayor of this city, Richard M. Daley, has invited regular everyday people from all over the world to dinner New Year's Eve in Chicago.
Steve Stringfellow, 23 December 1999
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 December 2001
See also: World Fairs
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 January 2009
At www.gettyimages.com/detail/83956350, we can see the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid flag, hoisted along with national, state, and city flags. It is a plain white flag (~3:5) with the bid campaign logo on it.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 January 2009