The four flags that fly on Bicentennial Plaza, a REALTOR® Community Partnership, hold special meaning for Illinois. Each is a 21-star flag, which became the official U.S. flag on July 4, 1819, to recognize the admission of Illinois as the 21st state in the union on Dec. 3, 1818.  

“I saw the 21-star flag flying over our State Capitol in honor of the Illinois Bicentennial and as we already have an official state flag and U.S. flag for our headquarters, a replica of the 21-star flag would be ideal and symbolic for Bicentennial Plaza,” says Illinois REALTORS® CEO Gary Clayton.  

The first U.S. flag was officially adopted on June 14, 1777. At the time it included 13 equal horizontal stripes and 13 stars representing the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island.  

The 21-star flag lasted just one year and the only president to serve under it was James Monroe. The following year both Alabama and Maine joined the union resulting in a 23-star flag. The current 50-star flag has been in use since 1960 after the admission of Hawaii.

Bicentennial Plaza, a REALTOR® Community PartnershipBicentennial Plaza will mark the patriotic federal holidays including the upcoming Veterans Day with a red, white and blue lighting theme for its LED lights that crisscross the plaza.  

Clayton said there is a light display computer-programmed for shortly after dusk nightly. The timing will change with the seasons, and the colors also will change for holidays and special events. 

“The lights are designed to attract attention to the Plaza, spark interest and visitors,” Clayton said. “We want to encourage tourists and people from the Springfield community to walk the plaza, spend some time reading the stories told on the history panels and learn more about the struggle for equal opportunity from Lincoln’s time to today.” 

The nightly light display also signals the “close” of the Plaza as it is intended for public use throughout the day as a pedestrian walkway.  

“Bicentennial Plaza is a very public and prominent example of REALTORS® working with heart in their communities. In every town and city in Illinois you’ll find REALTORS® fundraising or volunteering for nonprofit and civic causes, promoting economic development,” Clayton said. 

Bicentennial Plaza, a REALTOR® Community Partnership, was officially dedicated on Aug. 26, 2018, and is a Signature Legacy Project of the Illinois Bicentennial. It fulfills a long-held vision of the city of Springfield for a pedestrian walkway linking the Lincoln Home to the Governor’s Mansion and state Capitol along the Jackson Street corridor. It is the result of a public-private partnership between the city and Illinois REALTORS®, which donated use of the land which had previously been used for parking. The plaza, located just north of the association’s headquarters, connects Fifth and Sixth streets in downtown Springfield.   

The Plaza features a monument commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the federal Fair Housing Act and 16 interpretive panels presenting people and events that tie to President Lincoln’s vision for America as a land of equal opportunity for all. Learn more at