The elements of the flag represent Cook County itself, with the blue of Lake Michigan to the east and the green of the Forest Preserves on the land. The half-compass shows the five suburban regions (North, Northwest, West, Southwest, South) and the white triangle in the center of the compass is the City of Chicago, the county seat capital.
The colors are also a representation of power within a community and how a community should be. The orange represents encouragement: We should encourage each other to be better people and strive for better things. The blue represents trust: The residents of Cook County should be able to trust the justice system, and the system should work its hardest to obtain the trust of the citizens of the county. Green represents growth: With encouragement and trust, Cook County will grow and become better.
January 15th, 2021 marks the 190th anniversary of the existence of Cook County. As we enter the final decade of the second century of the County, we look forward into the future, into a new century. The New Century Flag represents some of the most notable features of the County — from the rivers that run through it to the city of Chicago at its center — as well as some of its historical accomplishments, all with a cohesive, modern, and distinctive design.
The New Century Flag has two primary components: the Wheel, and the Stripes. The Wheel, in the leftmost third of the Flag, represents three separate aspects of the County: ● O’Hare and Midway, Cook County’s bustling airports ● the Ferris Wheel, invented in Cook County ● the geographic layout of Cook County
The Stripes, on the other hand, represent the four primary bodies of water in Cook County: Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, the Des Plaines River, and the Little Calumet River. In this labeled simulation, the waving New Century Flag is labeled according to its geographical representation of the County.
The Flag is made of three colors: red, white, and blue. This combination of colors evokes both patriotism and diversity — after all, the three colors make up not only the American flag, but the plurality of country flags around the world. The exact shade of red, Wheel Red, comes directly from the iconic Chicago flag, whereas the blue, Lake Blue, is nearly identical to that of the Cook County seal. Wheel Red and Lake Blue are just two of the colors used in this proposed Cook County design system; the rest can be seen below.
The New Century Flag is precisely gridded to ensure near-perfect dimensions and margins. Set in a 15:9 horizontal aspect ratio, the Flag is proportioned on the basis of a single measurement: x. When the Flag is printed at a size of 15 inches by 9 inches, x is equal to about 0.43 inches. The ratio of blue stripes to the white margins that separate them is 2:1, with the former being a measurement of 4x and the latter 2x. The Wheel is drawn with x as the width of the stroke. The entire Flag consists solely of perfect circles and lines rotated by either 45 or 90 degrees.
Portions of the schematic of the Flag can be separated from the whole to form art-like structures, resembling the work of renowned Cook County architect Frank Lloyd Wright. These patterns have many potential applications, from usage in posters and advertisements, perhaps to frame content and images, to simple but unique Virtual Backgrounds.
The New Century Flag may be condensed into a small icon when it is necessary, known as the Minilogo. The Minilogo has a variety of applications, from the subtle branding of a slideshow as the schematic image above exemplifies, to profile pictures on social media as depicted below. The colors of the Minilogo adapt to the background to ensure contrast, and can come in full-color, two-color, and three-color.
This Flag represents a new step forward. It embodies both history and future. Its design is simultaneously familiar and unique.
This flag combines all of the important land and iconic features of Cook County. The yellow stripe represents the prairie land, our foundation. The dark blue represents Lake Michigan while the light blue represents the rivers of Cook County. The dark blue is also used to represent the previous county flag and seal, since it is a similar dark blue color. The five stripes in total represent the five regions of Cook County while the white star represents the sixth, Chicago.
The blue stripes illustrate the importance of water to Cook County. The top stripe represents the North Shore Canal, the Skokie River/ Lagoons, the Des Plaines River, and the North Branch of the Chicago River while the bottom stripe reflects the Grand Calumet River, the Illinois River, Salt Creek, and the South Branch of the Chicago River. The central stripe indicates the main stem of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. The Y shape mimics the merging of these bodies of water at Wolf Point. Not only are these bodies of water beautiful, treasured resources, they are an essential piece of this county’s history. By facilitating trade between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, our waterways made Cook County the national center of commerce it is today. Additionally, this imagery is used on the popular Municipal Device, more commonly known as the Y symbol, and is seen in logos and art around Cook County. The Y symbol can even be found on the original county seal, which is engraved outside the entrance of the Cook County Building at 118 N. Clark St. in Chicago.
The green stripes symbolize nature and the Forest Preserves. The placement of the green stripes depict a river bank like seen at the Des Plaines River Trail and North Branch Trail. Originating in 1914 with the establishment of the Forest Preserve District, the Forest Preserves serve as an integral connection to the natural world for the people of Cook County and a vital nature sanctuary, all while being surrounded by a bustling metropolis. The forest, nature walks, river trails, prairies, and even the Botanical Gardens and Brookfield Zoo are all protected by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. This kind of commitment to nature is not seen in any other urban area. Our deep connection to the natural environment is something unique to Cook County.
The white background of the flag represents innovation and commerce. The color white depicts a blank canvas, a freshness of what is yet to come and the human eye views the color white as brilliant. Cook County is a national economic leader marked by major industries and significant advancements in technology, healthcare, architecture, and countless other pivotal fields. Cook County’s major role in railroad, interstate, water, and air transportation is essential to the economic development of local communities, Illinois, and the entire United States.
The red stars have several important meanings. The stars represent six foundational moments that represent who we are through the founding of Cook County, our commitment to health care through the founding of Cook County Hospitals Stroger and Provident, defeating disparities through the founding of Cook County Department of Public Health, preserving national lands through the founding of the Forest Preserve, family and juvenile justice reform through the founding of the first in the nation Arthur J Audy Home for justice-system involved youth, and local partnerships by harkening back to the old flag’s circle of stars. The seven points of the star represent different parts of Cook County: North, Northwest, West, Southwest, South, the City of Chicago, and the Forest Preserve District. The stars bring all the points together, symbolizing our unity and a common mission. The color holds particular significance. Red has historically been the color of social change, something Cook County is no stranger to. Red is strong and bold, as are those who continue to fight for equality. Some key moments in Cook County’s history include creating the first juvenile court in the world, welcoming over 200,000 Jewish immigrants after WWII, hosting the first Special Olympics, the founding of the first recognized gay rights organization in America, equal housing marches organized by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., recent protests for Black Lives Matter, and even electing historic County officials like Commissioner John Jones and Judge Mary Bartelme. The people of Cook County continue to be united in the fight for equality.
The flag gets its name from a historic statue by artist Charles Holloway, who was the first-place winner in an 1891 contest that challenged artists to come up with “a figure typical of Chicago’s spirit” to represent the city – sort of like an Uncle Sam. Holloway’s entry of a goddess figure suited for battle came out on top. Reflecting her defiant attitude, she wore a breastplate that read “I Will.” The “I Will” name embraces the fighting spirit and go-getter attitude of the people of Cook County.
My flag is named “Harmony” because it is a symbol of peace and unity. The top of the flag is blue to represent the dedicated Cook County police force, our clear blue skies, and Lake Michigan.
The bottom half of the flag is colored green to represent Cook County’s forest preserves. The white line in the middle represents the 13 rivers of Cook County and doubles as a tribute to our cold winters filled with snow.
The semi-circles in the inner middle are the initials of Daniel Cook, the founder of cook county, (Cook, Daniel: C,D). The semi-circles come together to suggest the shape of a “C” for “Cook County”. The Y formed by the white lines creates the silhouette of the Chicago rivers meeting.
In the middle, lies a 9-pointed star, to represent the 9 regions of the Cook County Forest Preserves. The star is colored orange-red and sampled from the lettering on the current flag.