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Friday, June 21, 2024

Tall water tower inspires notes on city’s growth, governing bodies and logo design

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Above / Naperville water towers such as the one on Jefferson Avenue, just west of Ogden Avenue, display the city’s familiar logo that was designed in 1974.

Update, Feb. 2, 2024 / In addition to the City’s water towers, the Naperville “tree” logo is now featured on a new monument sign along Weber Road. And what follows in this story is a lot of history that dates back to 1831.

The eye-catching welcome sign by night and day is featured on a limestone-base structure topped with an image to depict a tree resembling the one used in the City’s logo. The monument will be graced with native plants and pollinators in the spring. (Photo by Ashley Penick, Feb. 1, 2024)

Original Post, Oct. 1, 2016 / Naperville residents are well aware that this city is spread among DuPage and Will Counties, located just 28 miles west of the Chicago Loop.

The early settlement was named after Joseph Naper, a sea captain credited with founding Naperville along the DuPage River when he and his brother, John, brought their families and can-do spirit here in 1831.

The settlement soon became an important stop for two main stage coach routes that ran from Chicago to Galena and to Ottawa.

According to the Naper Settlement website and research libraries, by 1832, 180 residents had built sawmills, gristmills, stores and the Pre-Emption House hotel in the area considered the heart of Naperville today.

In 1839, the town became the county seat when DuPage County was established.

In 1857, the village of Naperville was incorporated.

In 1864, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad ran its line through Naperville and its growth for the next century was tied to the rail connection to Chicago.

In 1890, Naperville became organized as a city.

And by 1900, the city had grown to 2,629 residents.

As a young city, residents began receiving city services such as water, sewers, electricity and telephones.

In 1954 when plans for the East-West toll road were announced, opportunities to connect to downtown Chicago were in the city’s future via “the just-completed Eisenhower Expressway.” As a result, residential, retail, industrial, and service industries began to blossom throughout the suburbs and in Naperville.

The local population boom began when big plans developed along the Corporate Corridor.

During the late 1950s and 1960s, Argonne National Laboratory, Northern Illinois Gas, Amoco Research Center, AT&T Bell Laboratories, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory created needs for homes and good schools.

In Naperville, Harold Moser led the residential building boom with his first subdivision in 1956.

By 1960, Naperville’s population was 12,933.

Since 1969, Naperville has operated under the Council-Manager form of government as provided by state law. Coincidentally, 1969 is also the year Naper Settlement was established to help preserve and tell the story of Naperville’s rich history.

The first seven Naperville mayors under Council-Manager governance were Milton Stauffer (1996-1971), G. Kenneth Small (1971-1975), Chester Rybicki (1975-1983), Margaret “Peg” Price (1983-1991), Sam Macrane (1991-1995), A. George Pradel (1995-2015) and Steve Chirico (2015-2023).

Former Mayor Price who served as 38th mayor recalls working on the referendum to change the city’s form of government as a member of the Naperville League of Women Voters, almost from the time she and her husband, Chuck, moved to Naperville in 1967. The Prices were among many families who settled here because of AT&T Bell Labs.

“A professional City Manager would help move the city forward and be responsible for executing all the city policies established by the city council,” she said, remembering Bill Norman as the first “real manager,” followed by George Smith (longest serving), Ralph DeSantis, Ron Miller, Peter Burchard and now Doug Krieger.

Today the Council-Manager form of government continues to combine the strong political leadership of elected officials in the form of a Council or other governing body with the strong managerial experience of an appointed local government manager to oversee public service delivery.

Naperville also relies on the dedicated volunteer can-do spirit of local residents by filling more than 250 volunteer positions on nearly 20 boards, commissions and task forces.

Price remembers one of the tasks of the Community Appearance Advisory Board (CAAB) in 1974 was to come up with a logo to represent the City of Naperville. She recalled that Steve Hyett who worked for the city and later became City Clerk served on the commission along with Chuck George and other architects and designers.

When asked, Naperville native Hyett reminisced about serving on the task force to design the logo.

“I was there as the city staff person in 1974 assigned to take care of the Community Appearance Advisory Board,” emailed Hyett.

Hyett noted George Olson was chairman, with members Chuck George, Bob Koch and others. All were architects, graphic designers, and artists. “Their job was to help beautify the city…” said Hyett. “…The board routinely made awards to builders, businesses and homeowners who cleaned up, rebuilt, painted or otherwise dramatically improved their property. It was a positive and inexpensive way to build community spirit.”

The CAAB also was given the task to come up with a city logo that would be distinguished from the city seal.

“The seal adorns official documents, such as municipal bonds (which I signed later as City Clerk) and official city documents,” Hyett said, noting the seal goes back to the early days of the city.

“The seal is a circle with an anchor in it, as homage to Capt. Joseph Naper, a ships’ captain who sailed to near Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) across the Great Lakes from Ohio.

“In 1974,” Hyett continued, “We needed something to put on city vehicles to identify them from other businesses vehicles… for the electric, water and public works departments that were growing rapidly as the city grew. Part of that effort was to come up with a color scheme for the vehicles that was distinct for each department, but uniform for the city. And for uniformity within the city’s letterhead, business cards, documents and signage.”

Many organizations hire companies to design logos that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, “but the city was frugal and used the board for the cost of breakfast meetings,” said Hyett.


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According to www.businessinsider.com, Pepsi spent $1 million for a new logo in 2008. In contrast, the Coca-Cola logo was created by its bookkeeper Frank M. Robinson in 1886 for free.

But in today’s landscape, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Many local business owners can attest to the costs with changing a logo or a full re-brand.

There’s printing costs, new business cards and stationary, website and social media design expenses, and a whole host of unforeseen expenditures that can arise.


The design of the logo was to be simple, repeatable and inexpensive.

When contacted about his role on the task force, Chuck George said trying to remember events and names from a few meetings in 1974 isn’t easy.

“We had a handful of meetings at George Olson’s office on Jefferson Street and at the first meeting all agreed we wanted a simple logo that expressed a city with trees, a river and profile of a cityscape blending in with the first two items,” said Chuck George.

“The very next meeting, ‘Someone’ Johnson who none of us knew at all came in with a very well defined drawing of what we had talked about at the first meeting. We all liked the simple arcs at the bottom of the logo expressing the river, asked to give more importance to the tree and slight adjustment of the cityscape adding a vertical element that could be a church spire in profile. Those slight revisions were made and the subsequent design was approved at the next meeting.”

Chuck George went on to explain, “I knew all of the others on the committee well and had worked with them on many other things, but not the Johnson guy who really did the lion’s share of the work after the committee defined the three items we felt should be incorporated to define what represented Naperville.”

After much time and work, the new logo was developed to say, “This is Naperville.”

In more detail, Hyett went on to describe the logo that represented the river, an important focal point for all the community’s life; hence the simple, wavy lines to denote moving water as the anchor to the community. The wavy lines subliminally incorporated all the creeks, detention basins and retention ponds within new developments.

“It’s amazing to me with the Riverwalk celebrating 35 years this year, that the river represented on the current logo is just as important today as it was in 1974, perhaps even more so,” said Hyett.

The tree — the largest component of the new logo — was the overwhelming symbol of the community representing the importance of green space, ecology and open space.

The low level of the buildings in the logo indicated a community that prefers to be primarily residential in nature, but with an occasional taller structure, such as the taller buildings of Old Main at North Central College, Edward Hospital or perhaps the steeple at Ss. Peter & Paul or other churches.

“But it was made clear this was not a religious symbol,” said Hyett. “But rather a generic symbol because of the many and diversified religions within the community.”

Today, that taller structure in the logo could be construed to represent the water towers.

“It’s also amazing how that taller part of the logo has withstood time… with the looks of the Carillon’s bell tower at Rotary Hill along the Riverwalk downtown… and with the iconic 10-story “N Building” on North Washington Street at the tollway… all built long after the city’s logo was designed.”

The CAAB developed guidelines for the logo’s use by the City, and also provided guidelines for its use on non-city items, if a potential user wants to follow those guidelines.

According to Hyett, those restrictions are to control the use of the logo, such as any business would restrict the use of its corporate logo and go after inappropriate knock-off uses.

“The city’s current logo with simplicity of design is repeatable and inexpensive to replicate,” added Hyett. “It’s survived and flourished for more than 40 years with the community’s growth to about 150,000.

“And it still incorporates all the important symbols that are top of mind and so important in our community.”

FYI: A recent quote to repaint the Naperville Water Tower West with its logo is $600,000, scheduled for the next year per budget request.

Talks on new image for a Naperville flag

yellow-box-theaterIn recent months, much talk on TedxNaperville and among local teens has been devoted to a new flag with a new image that stands for Naperville. Submissions for the new design have been met with many opinions and mixed emotions.

For everything you want or need to know about the project, visit www.napervilleflag.org.

TEDxNaperville 2016 “Exposure” will take place from 1PM to 7PM on Friday, November 4, at The Yellow Box, located at 1635 Emerson Lane in Naperville.

Last Updated, Feb. 2, 2024 / In April 2023, Scott Wehrli was elected Mayor of Naperville.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.
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