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City flag ranks 24 out of 150 U.S. cities

| Friday, Oct. 29, 2004, 12:00 p.m.

Here's something locals can salute: Pittsburgh is in the top 25 in a survey ranking flags from 150 American cities.

The North American Vexillological Association -- a group of flag experts -- conducted a poll on its Web site, asking members and the public to rate flag designs. Pittsburgh came in at No. 24, beating out numerous gaudy flags.

Flag aficionados said the nation's best city flag is Washington, D.C. The worst is Pocatello, Idaho.

Pittsburgh's flag is divided vertically into three equal parts; the first and third are black and the middle gold. The gold section contains the city's arms. An ordinance officially established the flag in 1899.

Vexillological Association members preferred the simple, brightly colored flags with a distinct quality.

Association president Peter Ansoff said there are a few reasons why Pittsburgh did well in the rankings.

"The colors are very bold and distinctive," he said. "That particular combination of black and gold is rather unusual. Although Baltimore uses the same colors, most cities prefer red, white and blue."

Ansoff said that sometimes less is best.

"The coat of arms is bold and you can make out what it is from a distance," he said. "The coat of arms has a relatively small number of elements, which we favor more than too many details."

Pittsburgh fared better than other cities in the state. Philadelphia ranked No. 31, and capital Harrisburg came in at No. 74.

The survey will be published in the Vexillological Association's new book, "American City Flags: 150 Flags from Akron to Yonkers."

To see the complete list of flag rankings, visit the North American Vexillological Association Web site at www.nava.org .

Additional Information:

Details

The best -- and worst -- city flags

Top five

1. Washington, D.C. 2. Chicago 3. Denver 4. Phoenix 5. St. Louis (24. Pittsburgh)

Bottom five

146. Mesa, Ariz. 147. Milwaukee, Wis. 148. Rapid City, S.D. 149. Huntington, W.Va. 150. Pocatello, Idaho

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