Chicago seal explained | What’s up with that?
Why does the city’s seal feature a naked baby in a shell?
What’s up with that baby on Chicago’s city seal, and why is it riding in a shell?—L.M., Bridgeport
“A point-by-point explanation was provided in 1905 by Chicago dentist and part-time heraldist Dr. B.J. Cigrand, who personally designed the familiar version of the seal still in use today,” says historian Tim Samuelson. “The city auditor balked at Cigrand’s $547 bill for his services, protesting that it was ‘at least several times what a well-designed and engraved seal should cost.’ ” Samuelson helped us make sense of that tot on the half shell and the rest of the symbol-heavy seal.
The baby in the shell is the newborn city’s boast to being the pearl of the Great Lakes. The infant is asleep, representing peace and contentment.
The U.S. shield shows off the city’s national pride.
The bundle of wheat represents prosperity.
The Native American stands, literally, for the first settler of the city’s site.
The ship in full sail indicates the approach of European colonizers and trade.
“Urbs in horto,” Chicago’s motto, is Latin for “city in a garden.”