Category: flag


The July issue of the Flagwaver appeared on the internets recently, containing an editorial response to my complaints about their depiction of the Chicago Flag in their December 2000 issue. They’re dismissive of my originalist argument, preferring some combination of strict constructionalism and textualism. Clearly, some legistlative action is called for. Update: Loyal reader S.G. points out more Chicago flag related action in the soccer arena, relating to the third uniform design worn by the Chicago Fire.

quick note on bibliography

I’ve posted my in-progress annotated bibliography of the Chicago Flag. There’s a lot of things I need to add, but it’s relatively complete, at least as far as the timeline of events goes.

five-point star situation

Where I am in my research:

The Tribune article expressing Rice’s discontent with the plan to make the stars five-pointed led me to look in 1928’s council proceedings to find what action, if any, was taked on the proposed ordinance. I assumed, since the current flag sports lovely six-pointed stars, that the ordinance was shunted off to committee or never introduced.

Some time with the indexes to the proceedings revealed that it did indeed come up for a vote on February 15th, 1928 — and the ordinance passed. Which means that the City Clerk should have made the appropriate changes to the city code. However, all the printed and bound editions of the code that the Municipal Reference department can produce all have “six in number” language. I didn’t make careful notes on the exact dates of the volumes, so I can’t be sure the changes were never applied.

However, I’ve yet to see a picture of a flag from the 1928-1933 era, between the time the change was made and the third star was added. Also, the only reference I’ve found to “five-pointed” stars (and what I assumed was a typo) is from a typewritten page by Frederick Rex, one of the municpal librarians. It’s an excerpt from the “Quarterly Bulletin” of the Municipal Employees Society from Sept. 1930.

I’ve checked the indexes to the City Council proceedings from 1928-1939 for further changes to the flag (perhaps undoing the five-to-six point change), but the only actions I could find were the adding of stars. The 1939 ordinance adding the fourth red star for Ft. Dearborn contains the “points, six in number” language, both in the section to be modified and the text to be added.

So, at some point between 1928 and 1939 (or possibly 1933, since I’ve seen three-star flags with six points) they changed the language back, and this action didn’t get picked up by the indexer of the proceedings. It’s also possible that the six-to-five change was never made, which opens a whole other can of worms — what happens when ordinances pass but never make it onto the books?

Change in Specifications for the Municipal Flag

(From the proceedings of the Chicago City Council, February 15, 1928, p. 2155)

Alderman Mose presented the following ordinance:

Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Chicago:

Section 1: That Section 1017 of The Chicago Municipal Code of 1922 be and the same is hereby amended to read as follows:

“1017. The Chicago municipal flag. The Chicago municipal flag shall be white, with two blue bars, each taking up a sixth of its space, and set a little less than one-sixth of the way from the top and bottom of the flag, respectively. There shall be two bright red stars with sharp points, five in number, set side by side, close together, next the staff in the middle third of the surface of the flag.”

Section 2: This ordinance shall be in force and effect from and after its passage and approval.

Unanimous consent was given to permit action on said ordinance without reference thereof to a committee.

Alderman Mose moved to pass said ordinance.

The motion prevailed, by yeas and nays as follows:

Yeas– Coughlin, Anderson, Jackons, Cronson, Grossman, Meyering, Govier, Rowan, Wilson, Hartnett, McDonough, O’Toole, Moran, Coyle, Ryan, McKinlay, Prignano, D. A. Horan, Cepak, Toamn, Arvey, J. H. Bowler, Sloan, Maypole, A. J. Horan, Clark, Smith, Petlak, Kaindl, Nusser, Mills, Adamowski, Rings, Chapman, T. J. Bowler, Haffa, Loescher, Feigenbutz, Nelson, Hoellen, Massen, Frankhauser, Mose — 43.

Nays — None.

Designer of Chicago flag protests plan to change its stars

(from the Chicago Daily Tribune, Feb 3, 1928)

Word that Mayor Thompson has ordered preparation of an ordinance to change the stars in the municipal flag from six point to five point yesterday drew a protest from the flag’s designer, Wallace Rice. Mr. Rice designed the flag in 1917 at the request of the mayor, he said. It is now planned to change the stars so that they will conform to those in the national flag, it was stated.

“I purposely made the stars six pointed,” Mr. Rice said yesterday. “Five point stars are the symbols of states and could manifestly have no place in a municipal flag. Mayor Thompson is making not only himself but the flag ridiculous by ordering the change.”

There are two red stars in the municipal flag and two blue stripes on a white background. The stripes, the color, and the stars all have a detailed symbolism, each point of the stars representing a distinct characteristic of the city, Mr. Rice explained.

The proposed ordinance is to be presented to the city council on Feb. 15, it was reported.

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