Happy 98th birthday to the Chicago Municipal Flag! In 1915 Mayor William Hale Thompson appointed a commission to develop a city flag. Wallace deGroot Cecil Rice, a poet and former member of Chicago’s infamous and short-lived Whitechapel Club was chosen to develop the rules for a contest from which a winning design would be chosen.
For those familiar with the Whitechapel Club it is no surprise that the design by Wallace Rice himself was chosen as the winner!
The design was adopted by the City Council on April 4, 1917.
The design was simple and symbolic. The white stripe on the top is 8 inches wide, the blue stripe under it is 9 inches wide, the center white stripe is 18 inches wide. The two lower stripes are the same as the upper two. Near the staff on the broad center stripe were originally two red six pointed stars which stood for the Great Fire of 1871 and the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The flag currently has four stars when it was decided that a star would be added to represent the 1933 Century of Progress Fair and finally in 1939 when a star was added to represent Fort Dearborn which became the new first star and shifted the others to the right by one.
When viewed locally the three white stripes represent the north, west and south sides of the city while the top blue stripe represents the north branch of the Chicago and the bottom blue stripe the south branch.
When viewed nationally the top and bottom white stripes represent the two mountain ranges that flank the city of Chicago and the center white stripe represents the plain on which it stands. The two blue stripes represent the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
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