Home > Specification > Content

Who Designed the Chicago Flag

Nov 14, 2020

ChicagoJohnin flag

Who Designed the Chicago Flag 

Contest #1

In 1892, organizers were preparing for the World's Columbia Exposition. Efforts were being made to decorate the fair grounds as well as the city.

Since there were no official colors or unifying symbols, the city officials and exposition organizers were looking for ideas. Francis Davis Millet was a local artist and supervisor of sculpture and painting for the exposition.


Francis Davis Millet portrait in black and white


He expressed the situation this way:

"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 idea was embraced and a contest was announced to choose colors for the city. In the following 10 days the Tribune received 892 entries.The winning entry was submitted by architect Alfred Jensen Roewad.  

And so, the official Municipal colors adopted by the city were red and white.


Contest #2

In 1915 Alderman James A. Kearns felt the city was falling behind other world cities in terms of identity. He proposed that the City Counsel form the Chicago Municipal Flag Commission.

The Commission, steered by rules and contest guidelines governed by Wallace Rice received over 1000 entries to be considered. On April 4, 1917 - the same day the U.S. Senate voted to support U.S. entry into World War I - City Council approved the winning design. There were 63 "yeas" and zero dissents.

Wallace Francis portrait from the Chicago Tribune


Ironically, the design chosen was submitted by none other than Wallace Rice himself.