Chicago, the city, was born on March 4, 1837, the same day that Martin Van Buren took the oath of office at Washington and was inaugurated the president of the United States.
When the Town of Chicago was incorporated in 1833, the population was estimated at 150. A census, taken by the city a few months after the charter of the city was taken out, showed a population of 4,170. The males numbered 2,570, the females 1,600. Dwellings numbered 398, churches 5, liquor dispensaries 26, taverns 10, groceries 19, law offices 17, and drug stores 3.
The Seal of Chicago was adopted in June, 1837 and The Charter and Ordinances of the City of Chicago had described the seal. “Be it Ordained by the Common Council of the City of Chicago, That the seal heretofore provided and used by and for the city of Chicago, the impression on which is a representation of a shield, with a sheaf of wheat in the centre; a ship in full sail on the right; a sleeping infant on the top; an Indian with bow and arrow on the left; and with the motto, ‘Urbs in Horto’, at the bottom of the shield; with the inscription, ‘City of Chicago: Incorporated 4th March, 1837,’ around the edge of said seal, shall be, and is hereby established and declared to have been and now to be the seal of the city of Chicago.
The symbolism is simple. The sheaf of wheat stands for fertility of the Illinois prairies, the ship, Lake Michigan, and the Indians, the original settlers of the Chicago region. “Urbs in Horto” – “ Garden City – is the motto by which the early city fathers hoped Chicago would be. Only slumbering infant is a mystery, although it is accepted to mean peace and purity.