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Chicago, Illinois (U.S.)

Cook County

Last modified: 2010-09-24 by
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Chicago image by Rick Wyatt, 10 June 1999

See also:

Description and meaning of the flag

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 First Red Star represents Fort Dearborn (added in 1939).
The Points of the First Red Stars signify:
  1. transportation
  2. labor
  3. commerce
  4. finance
  5. populousness
  6. salubrity
The Second Red Star represents the Chicago Fire of October 8-10, 1871.
The Points of the Second Red Star signify:
  1. religion
  2. education
  3. esthetics
  4. justice
  5. beneficence
  6. civic pride
The Third Red Star represents the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.
The Points of the Third Red Star signify history of the area:
  1. France 1693
  2. Great Britain 1763
  3. Virginia 1778
  4. Northwest Territory 1798
  5. Indian Territory 1802
  6. Illinois Statehood 1818
The Fourth Red Star represents the century of progress, and was added for the Exposition of 1933 (added in 1933).
The Points of the Fourth Red Star signify:
  1. Country's Third Largest City
  2. City's Latin Motto
  3. I Will Motto
  4. Great Central Market
  5. Wonder City
  6. Convention City
Jan Oskar Engene, 16 March 1996

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,, 19 June 2008


Text of the original meaning of the flag (1917)

Chicago image by Steve Shumaker, 17 June 2008

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)

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."
Valentin Poposki, 23 September 2007

Chicago 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
Valentin Poposki, 3 January 2009

Flag up to 1933

Chicago 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

Variant with large stars

Chicago - large stars 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

Chicago Fire Department

Chicago Fire Department flag 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

Chicago 2000

Chicago Welcomes 2000 flag 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

Chicago World's Fair

Chicago World's Fair 1933 image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 December 2001

See also: World Fairs

Olympic Games Bid, 2016

Chicago Olympic bid 2016 image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 January 2009

At, 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