There aren’t a lot of cities in the United States that are home to more prideful people than the city of Chicago. The Windy city is the corner stone of the Midwest and the people that live there are known for their hardworking spirit and grit. Therefore, you are bound to see some people sporting a tattoo of the Chicago city flag. The Chicago flag tattoo is one that holds a great deal of meaning to the folks that wear it and it has a wonderful story behind it.
History of the Chicago Flag
Chairman William Robust Thompson delegated a municipal flag commission in 1915, led by Council member James A. Kearnes. Affluent industrialist Charles Deering was one of the members as well as impressionist painter Lawton S. Parker. Parker asked speaker and artist, Wallace Rice, to create an open competition to see who could create the best flag. There were over a thousand entries submitted for approval. After all this, it was Wallace Rice’s entry that won them over. On April 4, 1917, the commission’s suggestion was acknowledged by the city committee.
The flag has a white background with two horizonal stripes. The two stripes are 1/6th of the overall height of the flag. Between the two stripes sit four stars with six points.
In more detail, each aspect of the Chicago flag has meaning. The three white spaces from top to bottom represent the North side, West side and South side respectively. The top blue stripe signifies Lake Michigan and the Chicago River north branch. The bottom blue stripe signifies the “Great Canal” and the south branch of the Chicago River. The shade of blue chosen for the flag is representative of “the color of water” as described by Wallace Rice. It’s also referred to as sky blue or pale blue.
The four red, six pointed stars on Chicago flag represent major historical events in the Windy City. The first star on the flag is there for Fort Dearborn and was added in 1939. Fort Dearborn was erected in 1803 next to the Chicago River. It was named in honor of Henry Dearborn who was the United States Secretary of War at the time. It was built by the troops serving under Captain John Whistler. Each point of that star represents salubrity, commerce, finance, populousness, transportation and labor.
The second star symbolizes the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 and was on the original design in 1917. The six points of that star stand for education, aesthetics, religion, civic pride, justice and beneficence. The Great Chicago Fire lasted from October 8, to October 10, 1871. 300 people lost their lives during that fire and 3.3 square miles were completely destroyed. More that 100,000 were left without homes.
The third star stands for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, the Exposition was a cultural event like none other and was designed by Daniel Burnham, John Root, Frederick Olmsted and Charles Atwood.
The six points of that star are representative of political entities Chicago has been a part of and the flags that have flown over the city. These included France, Great Britain, Virginia, the Northwest Territory, the Indiana Territory and Illinois.
Finally, the fourth star symbolizes the Century of Progress Exposition that went from 1933 to 1934. It was a World’s Fair held in Chicago to celebrate the centennial. The theme of the event was innovation of technology. The motto of the fair was “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Adapts”.
The six points of the last star represent bragging rights for the Windy City. It was the United States’ second biggest city (eventually being pushed back to third by Los Angeles); Chicago’s “I Will” motto; the Convention City; the Great Central Marketplace; Chicago’s Latin motto, Urbs in horto; and Wonder City.
Over the years, new stars have been proposed for different reasons. One was to represent the contribution Chicago made to the nuclear age which was pushed by the Chicago Tribune and Mayor Daley.
Another star was proposed in the 1980’s representing Chicago’s first black mayor named Harold Washington. The Chicago Flood of 1992 had some steam as it represented another natural disaster similar to the Great Chicago Fire. There were other suggestions including a star for the Chicago Bull’s six championships, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, and if the city would have been chosen for the 2016 Olympics. When push came to shove, the city didn’t want to mess with a good thing.
This goes to show how thoughtful the design of this flag was. All of that aside, it is known as one the best flags in the United States.
In addition to it’s great history, Chicago has a fantastic sports history as well. The Chicago Bulls have won six NBA championships, including two separate 3-peats. The Chicago Blackhawks have won six championships so far. The Cubs finally got over the hump in 2016 and won a World Series making that the first one since 1908. The Chicago White Sox have won three World Series in their history and most recently in 2005. Finally, the Chicago Bears have one of the most popular teams in the history of the NFL in the 1985 squad that won the Super Bowl.
This just goes to show some of the history behind the city of Chicago and the Chicago flag. The history of this great city also tells why the Chicago flag tattoo is such a popular one for those that live there. Whether the stars are in the shapes of pizza or there is a cityscape in the background, these Chicago flag tattoos are a symbol of pride for those that wear it.
Check out some of these Chicago flag tattoos we have shown below. Take a look and gather some ideas for your next tattoo Chicago flag tattoo. If you’re having trouble deciding on an artist, let us know and we’ll help you with a recommendation for an artist that best suites your needs.