​New York's Flag History

A modern version of a Revolutionary War flag, today's New York State flag displays the State Coat of Arms, adopted in 1778 and centered on a dark blue field.

The shield depicts a cloudless sky with a rising sun behind three mountains, the highlands of the Hudson River. A three masted, square rigged ship and a Hudson River sloop navigate towards each other on the Hudson River representing commerce. The river is bordered by a grassy shore fringed with shrubs.

Beneath the shield on a white ribbon is the State Motto, "Excelsior (Ever Upward)", signifying a reach for ever higher goals. Above the shield, the crest shows a Bald Eagle, wings spread, perched atop a globe depicting the northern Atlantic Ocean. The eagle faces right, a good omen.

On one side of the shield stands "Justice", her hair decorated with pearls. She is blindfolded and carries a sword in one hand and a scale in the other hand. These symbols represent the impartiality and fairness of justice required to mete out punishment and reward. Justice is clothed in gold with a blue belt edged with red. A loose red robe hangs from her

Opposite Justice, stands "Liberty", holding a pole topped with the Phrygia cap. These caps were given to Roman slaves when emancipated and adopted by French Revolutionists as symbols of Liberty. A crown is at her left foot, thrown there to symbolize the failed control of the British Monarchy. Liberty is clothed in blue and wearing red sandals. Like Justice, a red robe hangs from her shoulder and her unbound hair is decorated with pearls.

Link here to the New York State Historical Society for facts, figures and history of New York.