WTTW: Cook County Has a New Flag, Just in Time for Flag Day

WTTW: Cook County’s Forgettable Flag — Yes, It Has One — Is Getting a New Look. Check Out the Finalists

by Patty Wetli

There’s a new flag in town. 

After a nearly three-year process that was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Cook County Board of Commissioners announced Tuesday a winning design in the competition to reimagine the Cook County flag for the 21st century.

Commissioner Scott Britton, who spearheaded the move to redesign the county flag, declared “I Will,” designed by Drew Duffy, a student at Glenbrook South High School, as the final choice of the board’s Flag Advisory Panel.

The decision received unanimous approval from board members. 

“Symbols mean a lot,” said Commissioner Brandon Johnson. “This moment is allowing us to capture who we are and what we want to reflect.” 

The board received nearly 300 submissions to the competition, some hand-drawn, some computer generated. Entrants were whittled down to 23 semi-finalists, Duffy among them, and each was assigned a design mentor to help hone their idea. As he progressed from semi-finalist to finalist, Duffy’s original drawing of a simple royal blue “Y” on its side, facing a red star, gradually transformed into a sophisticated representation of Cook County’s history, geography, diversity and unity.

“It represents all that we are and all that we will be,” Britton said. 

The blue stripes illustrate the importance of water to Cook County, the green stripes symbolize nature and the forest preserves, and the white background of the flag stands for innovation. The red stars pull double duty, their color a nod to social change and their number a reference to foundational moments in the county’s past.  

The previous flag was adopted in 1961 and features an image of the county’s seal sandwiched between the words “Cook” and “County,” all on a white background.

While the old flag may have been appropriate for its time, the new one brings the county into the modern age, commissioners said.

“We need to move forward,” said Commissioner Peter Silvestri, “and the new flag helps us do that.”

A flag-raising ceremony in Daley Plaza could happen as soon as Thursday.