Just how big is our Rising Star? Well, take a look at this comparison with some famous Chicago icons:


Star_Icons_Final_03 2


Our City’s spirit inspired our choice to have an icon rise – not fall – on New Year’s Eve. Our City’s flag inspired our choice to use the Chicago Star as that icon. And these combined to inspire our choice of Chi-Town Rising as our name.



In the early stages of the event’s development, we set a goal of differentiating it from the hundreds of NYE events occurring around the world each year. We didn’t want to be a carbon-copy of events in Times Square and elsewhere, and we wanted to clearly represent Chicago, its history, its spirit, and its people.

We started with the decision to have our icon rise into the sky, versus falling, which is the tradition of the vast majority of countdown icons used around the world. Chicago has always been “a city on the rise”, and never more so than in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1871, when the City rose from the ashes to become the fastest growing city in the world by the end of the 19th century. A rising icon is fitting for a populace that rises to meet challenges head-on, and it is aspirational – symbolic of looking forward to the opportunities that the New Year holds in store for us.

We can think of no better icon to represent these values than a rising Chicago Star. The Star is at once both simple and complex, representing so much in an amazingly simple and elegant design. It is the perfect icon for our celebration. Specifically, our Star is inspired by the second Star on the City’s flag; the Star which represents the Chicago Fire and the City’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes.



Once we had decided to use a Rising Star as our icon, we needed to figure out how to make it work. The challenge the design team faced was how to create a 70-foot Star, requiring full video capabilities, and with complex lighting effects, and get that Star to rise 360-feet up the face of the Hyatt Regency Chicago’s west tower in Chicago winter weather. Simple, right?

After multiple iterations, our partners at ONE618 and Chicago Flyhouse developed a design that incorporates the use of four cables and roof-mounted hoists, providing redundancy and safety. To keep the Star stable in windy conditions, two 360-foot steel I-beams (24,000 pounds worth) are installed on the building’s façade, allowing the Star to ride along them like tracks.

The Star itself is a thing of beauty. With a span of 70’6” tip-to-tip, it dwarfs icons like the ball in New York, which is only 12-feet in diameter. It weighs 12,000 pounds, which is the equivalent of three pick-up trucks, and it has amazing lighting and video capabilities that will be revealed on New Year’s Eve.

And how do we stack up against the New Year’s icons from other cities? Well, let’s just say that Chi-Town Rising’s unofficial motto is “Go Big or Go Home!”





Designed as part of a competition for a new City flag in 1917, Chicago author Wallace Rice developed a six-pointed star as a distinct element to stand apart from five-pointed stars used by sovereign states on national flags. The Star was designed to represent key events in the city’s history. The current flag has four stars: the first representing Fort Dearborn and the founding of the Chicago Territory, the second representing the Chicago Fire and the city’s miraculous rebirth in its aftermath, the third representing the Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the fourth representing the Century of Progress World’s Fair of 1933.

The flag itself has been recognized as one of the best designs in the world, and has remained unchanged since the addition of the fourth star in 1939. It is white, the composite of all colors, because our population is a composite of all nations, dwelling here in peace. The white is divided into three parts—the uppermost signifying the north side, the larger middle area the great west side with an area and population almost exceeding that of the other two sides, and the lowermost, the south side. The two stripes of blue signify, primarily, Lake Michigan and the north Chicago River above, bounding the north side and south branch of the river and the great canal below.

And the Star on our city’s flag is uniquely Chicago. Not only do the six points differentiate it from the five-pointed stars used elsewhere, but the Star itself is unique. As Rice described it: “It differs from all other stars in use…and is specifically for and of Chicago and nowhere else on earth because its points are straight and not like the usual heraldric etoile curved like flames, and because these points subtend an angle of only thirty degrees, instead of the sixty degrees subtended in the star made by superimposing a triangle.”

And just like our City and its people, the Star is multi-faceted, conveying deeper meaning to those that look more closely. Not only does each Star represent an important piece of Chicago’s history, but each point on every Star has it’s own meassge to convey:

  • The points of the Fort Dearborn Star represent –
    1. Transportation
    2. Labor
    3. Commerce
    4. Finance
    5. Populousness, and
    6. Salubrity
  • The Chicago Fire Star’s points represent –
    1. Religion
    2. Education
    3. Esthetics
    4. Justice
    5. Beneficence, and
    6. Civic spirit
  • The Colombian Exposition Star’s points commemorate the historical development of the Chicago Territory –
    1. The period of French domination
    2. The period of English domination
    3. The period as a territory of the state of Virginia
    4. The period as a part of the Northwest Territory
    5. The period as part of the Indiana Territory, and
    6. The statehood of Illinois in 1818
  • The Century of Progress Star’s points represent –
    1. US’s 3rd largest city
    2. “Urbs in Horto“ (City in a Garden)
    3. The city’s motto: “I will”
    4. The Great Central Market
    5. The wonder city, and
    6. The convention city

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