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There's a bright spot, literally, in Buffalo these days. It seems our city flag (yes, we have one) ranked 32nd out of 150 in a poll on the best and worst civic flags in the country, beating out Los Angeles, San Francisco and even New York City.

Washington, D.C.'s flag came in at No. 1 in the five-month online poll conducted by the North American Vexillological Association. In case you're wondering, vexillology is the study of flags.

Responses came in from NAVA members and more than 400 members of the public, according to the group. Participants rated the flags' design qualities on a 10-point scale. Buffalo got a respectable 5.26, the best rating in New York State. Albany came in 34th, New York City 37th and Rochester 53rd.

NAVA members preferred simple, brightly colored and distinctive flags over those with complicated designs, city seals or wording.

More than two-thirds of the flags scored less than five points. Those of Rapid City, S.D., Huntington, W.Va., and Pocatello, Idaho, were rated the worst, getting less than two points along with four others.

According to NAVA, the highest-scoring flags embodied the five basic principles listed in its flag design guide, "Good Flag, Bad Flag":

Keep it simple.

Use meaningful symbolism.

Use basic colors.

No lettering or seals.

Be distinctive.

The poll was held in conjunction with the publication of NAVA's book, "American City Flags: 150 Flags from Akron to Yonkers," the culmination of 40 years of research by former NAVA President John Purcell and a team of fellow vexillologists.


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