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Chicago's Iconic Four-Starred Flag Now Has Its Own Holiday

Mar 30, 2017

CHICAGO — Chicago now has a holiday dedicated to its iconic four-starred flag.

On Wednesday, the City Council passed a resolution to designate April 4 "Chicago Flag Day." The resolution, which was introduced by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), had 48 co-sponsors.

The date was chosen because April 4, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the City Council accepting the 1917 design by journalist, author and poet Wallace Rice as Chicago's official flag.

chicago flag made by johnin

Wallace designed the Chicago flag with a white base divided into thirds symbolizing the North, West and South sides of town. The two dividing blue bars represent Lake Michigan and both branches of the Chicago River. And each of the six points of the four stars has its own significance.

Originally, Chicago’s flag only had two stars. The additional two stars — one each for Chicago’s world’s fairs — were an afterthought.

Much has been written about the Chicago flag, which, according to Chicago magazine, is a much bigger deal than any other city's flag. There was even a push to put another star on the flag — which lead one flag-maker to create a five-star Chicago flag that wasn't supposed to exist.

"Chicagoans love our flag, we display it proudly in our homes and our government offices. We put our Chicago flag on everything from caps to beer koozies, even our bodies," Rosa said in a prepared statement.

He noted that residents have even had the pattern permanently inked on their bodies — although no local politician appears to have done so (or admit they have).

"During the Council's discussion of the measure I asked if anyone in the chamber had a tattoo of the Chicago flag, no one came forward, but it is almost guaranteed that when you get enough Chicagoans together one of them will have the flag tattooed on their body. Chicagoans' love for our municipal flag is a testimony to the deep civic pride in our city," Rosa said.

The meanings of each point on the four stars on the Chicago flag:

First star: Transportation; Labor and Industry; Commerce; Finance; Populousness; Salubrity 

Second star: religion; education; esthetics; justice; beneficence; civic spirit.

Third star: France, 1693; Great Britain, 1763; Virginia, 1778; Northwest Territory, 1798; Indiana Territory, 1802; Illinois statehood, 1818.

Fourth star: World’s third-largest city; City motto: Urbs in Horto (city in a garden); the “I Will” motto; Great Central Market; Wonder City; Convention City.