We see the Chicago flag all of the time but we didn’t the history behind it. The Chicago flag just turned 100 years old on April, 4 2017. Check out this story and learn about where are flag came from and why it looks the way it does!
History of the Chicago flag – Chicago Tribune “In its simplicity, the flag is totally immune to going out of style.” Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s official cultural historian
Every day in Chicago is Flag Day. Try walking a block on Michigan Avenue without spotting the city’s municipal colors in flag form.
Atop building entrances, on the right upper sleeves of police officers’ uniforms and on the bridge over the Chicago River, Chicago flags fly near their national and state counterparts.
Visitors scoop up the design on T-shirts and other souvenirs, while locals often have it tattooed on their bodies.
It might be hard to believe, but despite its popularity today, the Chicago flag was unrecognizable to the general public almost 60 years ago when the owner of a Portage Park hardware store displayed it. Some mistook it “for everything from the flag of Israel to that of one of the Scandinavian countries,” according to an Aug. 12, 1958, Tribune article.
How did this icon come to be? And what makes its design so popular and respected among flag enthusiasts (including the North American Vexillological Association, which says that next to the flag of Washington, D.C., it’s the best city flag in the U.S.) and laymen alike?
Let’s dissect the flag of Chicago by its colors — red, white and blue.
In 1892, with a little more than one month before the dedication of the World’s Columbia Exposition, organizers met with city leaders in a panicked effort to finalize decorations on both the exposition grounds and throughout the city.
Chicago had very little in terms of an official visual idenity — no official colors or iconography, let alone a flag — on which to lean. Published comments from the exposition’s supervisor for painting and sculpture, local mural artist Francis Davis Millet, addressed the issue:
“Almost all European cities have chosen colors, as the universities and colleges have done, and these are called the ‘Municipal Colors.’ Would it not be well now to see if the authorities of Chicago will not select a color or combination of colors as the ‘Municipal Colors’ for the city? If this is done, it will simplify the whole matter of civic decorations very much and afford a precedent which will, I am sure, be followed in all great cities of the Union.” Millet
The Tribune embraced Millet’s “catchy” idea, announcing a contest on the next day’s front page for the best municipal color combinations. In 10 days, the Tribune received 829 entries.
Suggested by an architect for the exposition, Alfred Jensen Roewad, red and white was the winning combination. He also submitted several images of how the colors could be displayed, including designs featuring a now familiar Y-shape.
It wasn’t until 1915 that the city’s lack of a flag became an issue. Ald. James A. Kearns, 31st, introduced a resolution calling for an official design. The City Council agreed with Kearns, who feared Chicago was lagging other major cities, and established the Chicago Municipal Flag Commission.
The commission sifted through more than 1,000 submissions before settling on an original design by writer and flag aficionado Wallace Rice. Coincidentally, Rice was originally retained to set the design rules of the competition.
The designs were submitted and approved by the City Council on April 4, 1917 — the same day the U.S. Senate voted to support U.S. entry into World War I. There were 63 “Yeas” and no dissents.
“White, the union of all the colors, to symbolize the union of all the races in the city of Chicago.” Rice, Chicago flag designer. Read more…