Talk:Flag of Chicago

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Correct design[edit]

From a 1928 letter by Wallace Rice to a Mr. Ettleson:

To return to the six-pointed stars in the Chicago municipal flag. By the terms of the competition under the rules laid down by the Chicago Flag Commission in 1917, the use of religious symbols, which included the cross, the star and crescent, and the two triangles, one reversed and superimposed, was barred, for obvious reasons. [1] The five-pointed star, symbol of a soverign State, was also considered out of place, for reasons which I hope have been made equally obvious here. Chicago is a city.

After more than four hundred designs had been made by me, I finally struck upon such a six-pointed star as had never appeared in any flag before, peculiarly and singularly a Chicago star, made by a Chicagoan for his greatly loved city, by an American in the tenth generation in this country, whose ancestors had fought against Great Britain, for the most American of American cities. It differs from all other stars in use in European heraldry and in State and National flags and coats-of-arms, and is specifically for and of Chicago and nowhere else on earth because its points are straight and not like the usual heraldric etioile curved like flames, and because these points subtend an angle of only thirty degrees, instead of the sixty degrees subtended in the star made by superimposing a triangle.

T.E. Whalen


Flags actually in use in Chicago show some variation. The Municipal Code (unlike the legal descriptions of some flags) is not a full and precise specification. This page shows a couple of extremes. (The small flag at bottom is clearly wrong, though, as stated; the stars cannot have 60° points.)

This Whalen fellow seems to know more about the subject than anybody else [1]; don't be put off by his obtuse blog. I've examined his bibliography (PDF). (That's CC-by; and I have a local copy.) Pity he doesn't seem to have made his paper public as well. I suggest that his version is about as definitive as anything is likely to get. I can testify, personally, that Whalen's is much more reflective of flags actually in use in the City of Chicago.

The current Wikipedia version is technically superior, being an SVG vector graphic; but its colors are too dark and the points of the stars are too sharp. The version I snagged out of Whalen's bibliography is a small, poor-quality bitmap. I suggest a high-quality flag be drawn to Whalen's design. John Reid 12:52, 14 May 2006 (UTC)


I've constructed a flag based on the research and design of T.E. Whalen (see last comment). I'm unable to export SVG but my workfile is in vector format; I've exported a very large PNG for your pleasure and am happy to work with anyone wishing to convert formats.

The Municipal Code is annoyingly vague in respect of detail. "Sharp points" are indicated; I resort to Rice for star design. The fly/hoist ratio is "preferably" 3:2 but can be almost anything else. The flag may not even be rectangular. Most difficult is the statement that the blue bars should not be one-sixth from the top and bottom of the flag but "a little less than" that amount. How much is a little? In my personal experience viewing a great number of Chicago flags, this adjustment has never been apparent.

It would seem that a great many flags could be constructed to Municipal Code; I've attempted to represent that which is most commonly seen in the City of Chicago itself.

Construction: The ratio of the fly to the hoist is 3:2. Construction specifications are given in arbitrary units in which the fly is 36 and the hoist is 24. The flag is symmetrical about both vertical and horizontal centerlines. Two light blue bars extending the full fly, 4 units wide, are set 4 units from centerline. Four red devices, each 6 units tall, are set along the horizontal centerline at intervals of 7 units, center-to-center. Each device is a stellated regular hexagon with points subtending an angle of 30°. The remaining areas are white.

John Reid 16:34, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Muni code text[edit]

I don't know if this really needs to be in the article but here it is: the full text of the relevant Municipal Code section. There is a link in the article. John Reid 17:39, 11 June 2006 (UTC)


Now is SVG file recode according to User:John Reid's construction sheet -xfi- 19:46, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Looks good. Next time you want to do an SVG rework, though, why not ask me for a vector file? John Reid 13:07, 9 October 2006 (UTC)


Is there any more specific information available on the colors of the flag? The bars seem to always be described as "blue" in text, but they look more like cyan or light aqua in reality. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

You see the text of the Muni Code; that's pretty authoritative. All I can say from personal experience is that a light blue is most common. Go visit if you like; or look at some photos. Light blue is, of course blue. No doubt the politicians who approved the Code, not being graphic designers, couldn't give a rat's ass whether a specific shade is specified -- and if they did, wouldn't know how to do it right.
In general, colors on flags are not tightly specified. A flag does not stop being a US Flag, for example, because the field is not the same shade of deep blue that's familiar. A flag serves a pretty basic purpose: to identify a political group. This need is often expressed during battle and other difficult conditions. The most robust expression is probably best.
That said, I've noted on the worksheet B-. If I know the way that society works, my worksheet will eventually get adopted officially by the City. Or maybe not. John Reid 13:16, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
If the city did put down Pantone colors for the flag, we got the software to "do it right." User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 19:37, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Star spacing[edit]

If you compare this SVG to a picture of the actual flag, the size and spacing of the stars are clearly different. Something appears wrong with the design above. Is it possible the city has passed ordinances that haven't been taken into account? Jason Quinn (talk) 06:48, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

I honestly do not know. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 18:51, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Which canal?[edit]

The city's description of the flag is vague and only refers to the lower stripe as "represent[ing] the South Branch of the Chicago River and the Great Canal." (emphasis added) In this article, "Great Canal" has been linked to the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Is this really the case? I ask because the flag was designed in 1917, long after the demise of the I&M and nearly two decades after the completion of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The latter was the canal that finally succeeded in permanently reversing the flow of the Chicago River, more earth was moved in its creation than in the Panama Canal project, and it's still in use today. I suspect (and am looking for sources to concur) that this is the "Great Canal" they meant. Kevin Forsyth 15:29, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Stemonitis (talkcontribs) 06:15, 18 July 2007

Every single one of other city flag articles in the US starts out "Flag of..." Since the word "Municipal" just means "city", I don't think it belongs in the title of the article. I would move it myself, but the redirect pages get in the way. Speciate 02:03, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

This article has been renamed from Municipal flag of Chicago to Flag of Chicago as the result of a move request. --Stemonitis 06:15, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Blue stripes[edit]

I've added a needs citation on the blue stripes section. That should be properly credited. My understanding was that the two blue stripes represented the two branches of the river with nothing about Lake Michigan or the canal. Donald Hosek 01:11, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

According to [2], it does. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 03:26, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
To boot, I dealt with all of the citation needed templates. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 03:37, 7 September 2007 (UTC)