New York's state motto is “Excelsior,” which in Latin literally translates to “ever upward.” The state motto of New York was adopted in 1778 and is featured on both the state’s seal and flag. An interpretation of the word Excelsior in connection with its status as the New York state symbol is that it represents the zeal of New York's citizens to strive or reach for higher goals through hard work and persistence.
New York’s state seal bears a depiction of the state’s coat of arms, which was officially adopted in 1778. The seal is shaped like a circle with an azure background and a smaller circle within that bears the image of two women who represent liberty and justice. Underneath their feet is a curled banner with the inscription of the New York state motto: “Excelsior.” Ladies Liberty and Justice are supporting a shield with a world globe, which is in turn topped by an eagle. Another interesting feature is that the left foot of Liberty is perched on a crown in order to represent freedom from Great Britain. On the other side of the shield, Justice is blindfolded, while holding a scale in her left hand and a sword in her right to represent fairness and impartiality.
The state motto of New York is also featured on the state’s flag. The flag was officially adopted in 1901, much later than the state seal and coat of arms. Apart from the state motto of New York, other unofficial nicknames for the state include “The Excelsior State” and “The Empire State,” which is the inspiration for the name of the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world between 1931 and 1972; the title then belonged to the World Trade Center until it was destroyed by the bombings of September 11, 2001.
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Other New York official state symbols include the state insect, which is the nine-spotted ladybug, the state fish, which is the brook trout, and the state shell, which is the bay scallop. The state bird of New York is the eastern bluebird, which is a songbird, while the state flower of New York is the rose. The state fruit of New York is the apple, the state gem is the garnet, and the official state fossil is the sea scorpion.