Learn all sorts of amazing Chicago facts about the Municipal Device and other aspects of Chicago at our awesome Public Library’s site. Introduced in 1892 as part of a Chicago Tribune contest, the Device was enshrined in our Municipal Code in 1917, along with the flag. The Municipal Device was intended for public re-use, to show our pride. During the next century, though, the flag stole our hearts.
An image of the Municipal Device, courtesy Chicago Public Library.
Photo of an Upside Traffic Control Municipal Device at intersection of State Street and Van Buren Street
Hippies doomed the Municipal Device with their peace symbol, which resembles the upsidedown Municipal Device favored by many of the industrious City Departments. They took pride in the engineering feat of reversing the flow of the Chicago River, and inverted the municipal device, later it was hated by Chicago Police in the 1960s…
Moving on… here’s an early example of a Municipal Device with the center ‘Y’ in red. That was the traditional depiction of the device, until they realized it was easier to make the whole thing white instead of terra cotta down the center. The Columbian Exposition needed white ones, and so here we are. All this is rumor I’ve heard from researching this project, chatting with Tim Samuelson and various librarians. Cool cats, all.
Original Municipal Device from the the Chicago Association of Commerce’s Great Central Market.
Other folks who geek out about symbols have lots to say about this one: