The coat of arms of the state of New York was formally adopted in 1778, and appears as a component of
shield displays a masted ship and a
sloop on the
Hudson River (symbols of inland and foreign commerce), bordered by a grassy shore and a mountain range in the background with the smiling sun rising behind it. The
unheraldic nature of the Hudson River landscape reveals the modern origin of the design.
A banner below the shield shows the motto Excelsior, a Latin word meaning "higher", "superior", "lordly", commonly translated as "Ever Upward." Following the adoption of the 2021 State Budget in April 2020, a secondary motto, E pluribus unum, appears.
Flags bearing the pre-2020 coat of arms (i.e. without the motto E pluribus unum) are still widely used so long as serviceable.
The shield is surmounted by a
crest consisting of an
eagle surmounting a world
Azure, in a landscape, the sun in
fess, rising in splendor or, behind a range of three mountains, the middle one the highest; in base a ship and
sloop under sail, passing and about to meet on a river, bordered below by a grassy shore fringed with shrubs, all
Supporters. On a quasi compartment formed by the extension of the scroll.
Dexter. The figure of
Liberty proper, her hair disheveled and decorated with pearls, vested azure, sandaled
gules, about the waist a
cincture or, fringed gules, a mantle of the last depending from the shoulders behind to the feet, in the dexter hand a staff ensigned with a Phrygian cap or, the sinister arm embowed, the hand supporting the shield at the dexter chief point, a
royal crown by her sinister foot dejected.
Sinister. The figure of
Justice proper, her hair disheveled and decorated with pearls, vested or, about the waist a cincture azure, fringed gules, sandaled and mantled as Liberty, bound about the eyes with a
fillet proper, in the dexter hand a straight sword hilted or, erect, resting on the sinister chief point of the shield, the sinister arm embowed, holding before her scales proper.
According to Joseph Gavit in New York History, Volume XXXI, the seal symbolizes the following:
In the center, a shield reveals the sun rising behind
Mount Beacon over the Hudson River. "The shield symbolizes in the full sun the name and idea of Old York and the old world; the mountains, river and meadow, with the ships, convey the name and idea of New York in the new world."
To the right, Justice is ready to fight tyranny with her sword held high.
Liberty, on the left, holds her foot on the overthrown English crown. "This New York is supported by Justice and Liberty, and discards monarchy."
The world globe is displayed above the shield. "By exhibiting the eastern and western continents on the globe, the old and new are brought together;"
Above the world globe soars the eagle. "while the eagle on the crest proclaims," Westward the course of empire takes its way."
The bottom ribbon exclaims "Excelsior", which means "still higher" or "ever upward".
Late 18th century rendition of New York's coat of arms, using a semi-globe and rounded shield.
Late 19th century rendition of New York's coat of arms, using a semi-globe and rounded shield.
Coat of arms of New York from 1896 until the addition of second motto in 2020.
The first version of the coat of arms on the state flag was adopted in 1778 and has been slightly redesigned over the years. The present flag itself is a contemporary variant of an American Revolutionary War-era flag. The original is at the
Albany Institute of History & Art.
The flag was formally adopted in 1896; the legislature changed the field of the flag from
buff to blue by a law enacted on April 2, 1901.
In April 2020, the 2021 state budget was passed, modifying the coat of arms to include "E Pluribus Unum" as a secondary motto beneath "Excelsior". The state seal and flag were also updated as well to reflect the change.