Skip to contents

From The Flag’s Stars To Hot Dogs And The Hancock, Chicagoans Love Showing Their City Pride With Tattoos

Why do Chicagoans love getting tattoos of the city so much? "The one thing they all have in common is: They want to memorialize their love for Chicago.”

  • Credibility:

CHICAGO — There’s not a day that goes by without someone walking into Tattoo Factory in Uptown to get a Chicago-themed tattoo by Amanda “Bats” Day.

Most often, the ink features the skyline or the stars of the Chicago flag — features that are widely used all over the city for decoration and to show Chicago pride. Day doesn’t get tired of those designs, though, or any of the other Chicago-themed tattoos she’s given people.

“It’s dope! It’s an honor to help people show their love for this city,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I can do a billion of them and still not be tired of them. You got to love Chicago.”

The coolest Day’s ever done: a realistic view of the South Side from the 18th Street bridge. That, and a picture-perfect shot of Chance the Snapper peeking out of the Humboldt Park lagoon.

And it’s not just Chicagoans who are coming to see Bats — people from all over the United States have stopped in to get a Chicago-themed tattoo.

“The one thing they all have in common is: They want to memorialize their love for Chicago,” she said.

Block Club asked Chicagoans to tell us about their city-themed tattoos.

Here’s what they said:

Chance The Snapper

Chance the Snapper — the little alligator found in the Humboldt Park lagoon in 2019 — is Chicago royalty, even if he was only in the lagoon for a short stay.

Chance, who now lives in Florida, drew hundreds of spectators to the lagoon as they tried to snag a glance at him. Now, he’s immortalized in ink on a handful of fans.

Among them: Zack Triveline, who got a 5-inch round tattoo of Chance swimming, mouth open, in front of the Humboldt Park boathouse. It’s on his leg and was inked by Bats.

“Everybody has loved it so far,” Triveline told Block Club in 2019. “I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘I want the same one.’ Everybody who sees it knows exactly” who Chance is.

Al Capone

This tattoo by Jibria Marie at Ink Therapy Lodge pays homage to a collection of Chicago favorites: the skyline, the White Sox — and the city’s famed gangster history with a portrait of Al Capone.

House Centipede

When Lakeview East resident Robert Vetter wanted to honor his time in Chicago with a new tattoo, he didn’t want something he considered obvious, like the skyline or The Bean.

Instead, Vetter chose an indoor creature many Chicagoans have had less-than-fun encounters with: a house centipede. It was done by Bats.

“I chose to get a centipede because I felt like it was more indicative of my time in Chicago than any other traditional Chicago icons,” Vetter said. “My fondest memory has been discovering that diffusing peppermint oil wards off house centipedes.”

Chicago Sports

Chicago sports fans, this one’s for you: Tattoo artist Mike at Maximum Tattoo in suburban Deerfield inked an outline of the word Chicago filled in with logos from the Blackhawks, the Bulls, the Cubs and the Bears. 

The Skyline And Stars

This ink combines two of the most-loved Chicago tattoos in one: the skyline, shown with a line-drawing outline, and the Chicago flag’s stars. Arizona resident Diana Inzunza — wife of Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay — has it on her arm to celebrate time she spent in the city.

“I love Chicago,” she said. “The [people], the food, the vibe, the summer. It has a very special place in my heart.” 

City History

A realistic drawing of the skyline combined with the Ferris wheel and the Chicago Theatre — that’s practically peak Chicago.

This black-and-white tattoo was done by artist Francisco Vargas

Chicago Dog

From the poppyseed bun to the sport peppers, this Chicago hot dog tattoo is an ideal representation of a city-favorite food. Chattanoogan Caitlin Warrick got it as a tribute to her time growing up in the Chicago area. It’s from tattoo artist Gracie at Sink or Swim Tattoo in Chattanooga.

“I went to college in Tennessee in ’08,” Warrick said. “I’ve been down here ever since, but I always missed the food. Especially the hot dog. Now I have a delicious reminder of home. It’s the best! And I have folks in town point to my arm and go, ‘Chicago!’”

The best part: The poppyseeds are in the shape of the Chicago flag’s stars. 

“I know the difference of folks going, ‘Hot dog!’ vs ‘Chicago! Poppyseed stars!’ when they see my tattoo down here in Chattanooga,” she said. “And honestly? I now have strangers’ numbers to text when there’s a Bears or Cubs game on. It’s pretty cool. Sweet home … .”

Zip + Area Codes

The amount of 606 ZIP codes in Chicago is staggering. Adonis Torres at Chicago Ink helped one customer get their favorite written down permanently with a large red 60634 tattoo honoring the Northwest Side.

Then there’s the area codes: 312 and 773.

John Hancock Center

This one is still just a tattoo-in-progress, but the mash-up of the John Hancock Center and the Eye of Sauron will be, when it’s done, the one tattoo to rule them all.

And everything else

Malort is gross, but it’s ours. Also: Morton Salt, bridges and so many flags.

Do you have a Chicago tattoo you want to share? Email us a photo and we’ll use it in a future Chicago tattoo roundup!

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: