By Vince Gerasole

CHICAGO (CBS) — On the west side of City Hall, with the official banner flying overhead, thousands have walked by a series of incorrect symbols of the Chicago flag on a row of lane dividers.

They’ve been here since 1999, and the city insists no one’s ever pointed it out until now.

Those who hold the Chicago flag dear know its four stars have six points.

The symbols at the entrance to Chicago’s seat of power have just five.

This is not the only municipal location where the design appears to be wrong.

A mural in the lobby of Chicago’s Police headquarters, a tribute to public service, also contains a painted Chicago flag with — you guessed it — five-sided stars.

At her Logan Square boutique, Shirley Kienitz sells some out of this world interpretations of the Chicago flag.

“You can find it on lip balms and patches and soaps,” Kienitz said.

She says artists sometimes alter its appearance to avoid paying a royalty fee to the city.

“Technically, you are supposed to change it 10 to 20 percent if you are re-purposing it for artistic use,” Kienitz said.

The four stars on the flag represent Fort Dearborn, the great Chicago fire,  the Columbian exposition of 1893  and the Chicago world’s fair of 1933.

Flag designer Wallace Rice created the six-pointed stars for a reason.

“He purposely chose six-pointed stars because they had never been used on other flags, and five-pointed stars are a symbol of sovereignty and he didn’t want to use that,” said Russell Lewis of the Chicago History Museum.

A city spokesman said the five-pointed design at City Hall was approved and installed by the Chicago Department of Transportation in 1999.

A spokesperson at the mayor’s office says the mural at police headquarters was approved, accounting for artistic interpretation of the flag.

No word on whether there will be any corrections to the lane dividers.

Vince Gerasole