A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 29, 2005
Excelsior
"Excelsior" ("higher") is sometimes taken to be New York City's motto, but it is a state motto.

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/kidsroom/nysfacts/seal2.html
Motto. On a silver scroll below the shield, in black type, the word "Excelsior" (Ever Upward).

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/kidsroom/nysfacts/sealhis.html
The Great Seal of 1777 was devised by a committee consisting of Messrs. Morris, Jay and Hobart, and was to be used for all the purposes for which the Crown Seal was used under the Colony.

http://www.answers.com/topic/new-york
About the Flag: Emblazoned on a dark blue field is the state coat of arms. The goddess, Liberty, holds a pole with a Liberty Cap on top. At her feet is a discarded crown, representing freedom from England at the end of the Revolutionary War. On the right is the goddess, Justice, wearing a blindfold and carrying the scales of justice, indicating that everyone receives equal treatment under the law. The state motto, "Excelsior," on a white ribbon expresses the idea of reaching upward to higher goals. On the shield a sun rises over the Hudson highlands and ships sail the Hudson river. Above the shield is an eagle resting on a globe representing the Western Hemisphere.

31 March 1827, New-York Mirror, pg. 286:
Perhaps the proudest of all arms, with the most appropriate motto, are those of the State of New-York; the sun rising; the motto, "Excelsior," higher. It implies continued and unchecked elevation. Were the motto in the superlative it would imply that the elevation had ceased, and that declension must follow.
Posted by Barry Popik
Names/Phrases • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 29, 2005 • Permalink