Crain’s: Cook County to raise new flag designed by student

Crain’s: Cook County to raise new flag designed by student

by Justin Laurence

If you’re one of the many Chicagoans with a tattoo of the city’s iconic flag, you may need to open up space on your other arm for a redesigned Cook County banner.

Cook County commissioners unanimously approved a new flag in committee on Tuesday—on Flag Day, no less—designed by Glenbrook South High School student Andrew Duffy, teeing up final approval at Thursday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

Duffy’s flag, dubbed “I Will,” will replace the current bare-bones design, created more than half a century ago, that features a white canvas with the words “Cook County” surrounding a county seal.

The winning design was selected from a group of six finalists chosen from a pool of almost 300 submissions from high school students from across the county. It will be officially unveiled at a flag-raising ceremony this summer in Daley Plaza.

After winnowing down the initial submissions to 25 semifinalists, those selected students were paired with mentors from the design community to help hone their ideas and designs. From there, the top six were chosen and voted on by the Board of Commissioners. 

I Will Banner

Duffy’s flag features a sideways “Y” symbolizing the regional rivers joining at Wolf Point “while harkening back to the original Municipal Device of Chicago,” according to a press release after the committee vote. Blue is used to symbolize the county’s waterways, green for preserved land and riverbanks, and red for social change; the white canvas represents the county’s future.

Also borrowed from the city’s flag is the use of stars to represent moments in the county’s history. In this case, there are six stars representing the county’s founding, the founding of the county’s two hospitals, the founding of the Cook County Department of Public Health, the Forest Preserves, the Arthur J. Audy home for juvenile and family justice reform, and “an ode” to the townships local governments of the county.

“The entire flag design process, from the first rough draft to the final committee meetings, has been an amazing, educational and fun experience,” Duffy said in the press release. You can read more details about the new flag and the meaning behind the design choices here.