Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
They're less visible, but most cities have flags just like countries or states. Some are great. Others, not so much.
For some people, flags are an intellectual passion. The North American Vexillological Association is a group officially dedicated to the study of flags, meeting annually to discuss the pressing vexillological issues of the day. It conducted a survey in 2004 to determine which American cities had the best and worst flags and even has a series of rules for what makes a good one:
1. Keep It Simple (The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory)
2. Use Meaningful Symbolism (The flag's images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes)
3. Use 2B3 Basic Colors (Limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set)
4. No Lettering or Seals (Never use writing of any kind or an organization's seal)
5. Be Distinctive or Be Related (Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections)
We surveyed city flags from North America and other parts of the world and came up with this collection of the best and worst: