|Use||Civil flag |
|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 bar represents Lake Michigan and the North Branch of the Chicago River. The bottom blue bar represents the South Branch of the river and the "Great Canal", over the Chicago Portage. The light blue of the flag's two bars is variously called sky blue or pale blue; in a 1917 article of a speech by designer, Wallace Rice, it was called "the color of water".
There are four red six-pointed stars on the center white bar. 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 the hoist outwards, the stars represent:
Additional stars have been proposed, with varying degrees of seriousness. The following reasons have been suggested for possible additions of a fifth star:
Per the Municipal Code of Chicago, it is unlawful to use the flag, or any imitation or design thereof, except for the usual and customary purposes of decoration or display. Causing to be displayed on the flag any letter, word, legend, or device not provided for in the Code is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines between $5.00 and $25.00 for each offense. Although, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits this section from being enforced ( U.S. v. Eichman).
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. The 318th Cavalry Regiment (United States) incorporated the flag into their insignia.
Ald. Raymond Figueroa and others want a fifth star added to the city's flag in memory of Mr. Washington.