City Cast

How to Make Illinois' Flag Better

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on June 14
The Illinois, American, and Chicago flags wave in the sky

The Illinois, American, and Chicago flags outside Navy Pier in 2019. (Raymond Boyd / Getty)

It’s Flag Day, when the U.S. adopted its flag 246 years ago. But today, we’re looking at the Illinois state flag and its possible changes.

The current Illinois flag is mid

Back in 1915, Illinois slapped its state seal on a white flag. In 1970, the state added “Illinois” under the seal after a Vietnam War veteran said other soldiers didn't recognize the flag.

Seals don’t belong on flags, vexillologist Ted Kaye told the City Cast Chicago podcast. A flag is meant to be recognized at a distance without writing.

How could the Illinois flag be better?

Opt for something so simple a kid could draw it from memory: two or three colors with some easy-to-remember symbolism, Kaye said.

The Chicago flag follows those successful design principles, which is why it's ranked high on best flag lists and why a lot of us sport Chicago flag tattoos.

What’re the looming changes?

State lawmakers greenlit a plan to create a commission to study a redesign of Illinois’ “seal-on-a-bedsheet.” Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature awaits; though, final designs wouldn’t emerge until the end of 2024.

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