The Old Courthouse in Globe The Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend Queen Valley Phoenix Skyline from the Westward Ho Luke Air Force Base Pine
State Capitol: Phoenix     State Motto: Ditat Deus (God Enriches)     State Nickname: Grand Canyon State     State Songs: "Arizona March Song" & "Arizona"     State Flower: Blossom of the Saguaro cactus    State Gem: Turquoise     Official Neckwear: Bola Tie     State Tree: Palo Verde     State Bird: Cactus Wren     State Fossil: Petrified Wood     State Mammal: Ringtail     State Reptile: Arizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake     State Fish: Apache Trout     State Amphibian: Arizona Treefrog      2
The Arizona Version of the United States Flag

The United States flag adopted to reflect Arizona's statehood was this country's symbol longer than any other flag. It flew for 47 years, from July 4, 1912, after New Mexico and Arizona became states on January 6 and February 14 of that year, respectively. It was replaced on July 4, 1959 after Alaska became the 49th state.

The 48 star Arizona  United States flag, 1912-1959.
The USS Arizona

The USS Arizona Memorial viewed from the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 12-01.

The battleship USS Arizona bears a state's name because when it was build the battleship was the mightiest ship of the Navy, and the mightiest ships were required, by law, to be named after a state.  The rule since Congress first gave the Secretary of the Navy authority to name ships in 1819 has been:  First class ships are named after states, second class ships after rivers, and third class ships after cities and towns.  The reason the Secretary chose Arizona may be subject to speculation, but Arizona's admission as a state a mere two years before construction began on battleship may have helped the choice along.

Even though the selection of Arizona as the name for battleship number 39 was happenstance, the people of Arizona threw themselves into support for their namesake.   Miss Esther Ross, of Prescott, was selected to christen the ship.  In addition to the traditional champagne, Miss Ross broke a bottle filled with the first water to pass over the spillway of Roosevelt Dam against the bow of the ship.  The ship was christened and launched in 1915, but was not commissioned until 1916 after additional construction on the floating hull.  The next year Arizona residents raised money to buy a silver service for the Arizona.

Today the USS Arizona lies just beneath the surface of the tranquil water of Pearl Harbor, where it has rested since 8:10 AM on December 7, 1941 when a Japanese bomb hit just forward of its number 2 gun turret.  Within seconds, the forward powder magazines exploded sending the ship rapidly to the bottom of the harbor.  1,177 of the crew were killed in the attack or entombed in the ship when it sank.

One of the two anchors recovered from the USS Arizona is on display at the entrance to the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 12-01.
The other anchor recovered from the USS Arizona is the center point of the park in front of the Arizona State capitol.  12-01.
The Bola Tie
A bola is a rope with weights attached used in South America to lasso cattle by entangling their legs.  The bola tie similarly entangles the wearer's neck in ornamentation.  It may also be called a bolo tie, but as the bolo is a Philippine machete, it is probably a corruption of the name.

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! is National Public Radio's weekly hour-long humorous quiz program, heard locally on KJZZ, 91.5 FM.  On Thursday, November 29, 2001, they recorded their show at the Red River Music Hall in Tempe.  While the show features questions about news stories, the accent that evening was on Arizona.  The show's researchers found that Arizona is, as far as they could determine, the only state with an official state necktie.  Inspired by such knowledge, they came up with the Limerick Challenge at the right, in which the phone-in contestant must fill in the missing word.

A bola tie. 2-02
I'm Vic Cedarstaff, cow poke, no tech guy.
I was ridin', the air was a speck dry.
My hat flies off, I holler,
"But the band's round my collar!"
Now it's Arizona's state ________.

Philipp Goedicke, "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!", National Public Radio, broadcast December 2, 2001.

Arizona License Plates
Get out your magnifying glass, or look to the right. 1-02
You have to love this car. 1-02
Arizona began issuing license plates in 1914.  Since that year it has had a number of firsts, not all of them keepers.  In 1917 Arizona became first state to have plates with a pictorial graphic.  That year's plain white plate with black lettering had a steer's head placed between the state name and the year.  In 1932 Arizona, proud of its copper industry, began making its plates from the metal.  That lasted only through 1934 when concern for cost overcame pride.  A patent number was stamped on the plates issued in 1934.

If Arizona thought so much of its mining industry to issue copper plates, one might expect them to include a slogan like "The Copper State."  One would be wrong.  In 1938, plates displayed not a slogan, but the name "Marcos de Niza," the Franciscan missionary who in 1539 explored the region that became Arizona.  The 1940 plates adopted the slogan, "Grand Canyon State," which they have carried ever since.

The aluminum multi-color scenic license plate, like most of those at the right, have been displayed on Arizona vehicles since 1996. The standard issue plates have a saguaro at the left of the plate preceding the serial number.  The background of the plate is reflective which contrasts with the non-reflective green letters and numbers.  Three numbers and three letters have been used for the general issue serials since 1959.

Prior to the multi-color plates, Arizona used a series of colors. 
1956 plates were steel with a basic black background and white lettering.  In 1959, the background changed to a dark blue and the color of the text was swapped with the background color every second or third year.  In 1964 aluminum replaced steel as the plates entered their last swap cycle.

The 1966 issue had plain black letters, but the white background
dazzled drivers with the first use of reflective paint on the state's plates.  In 1969, the reflective background became lemon-yellow, changing to copper-bronze with green letters in 1973.  In 1980 plates were either aluminum or steel and sported a burgundy background with reflective white letters.  The X NY A at the right is of this vintage.

Special issue plates have proliferated.  Besides the auto and motorcycle plate, for a small premium, a portion of which goes to your selected cause, you can have Child Abuse Prevention, or Environmental plates.  If you meet the qualifications you can choose Amateur Radio, Permanent Disability, Hearing Impaired, Purple Heart, Medal of Honor, Legion of Valor, Veteran Pearl Harbor, Survivor Former Prisoner of War, National Guard, Honorary Foreign Consul, Fire Fighter, or Fraternal Order of Police plates.

The right kind of vehicle can sport Alternative Fuel, Farm Vehicle, Horseless Carriage (manufactured in 1915 or before), Historic (25 years or older), Classic (on the Classic Car Club of America's list), or Street Rod (1948 or prior model) plates.  Those who opt for ASU, U of A or NAU collegiate plates have not necessarily attended those schools, but a portion of their premium fees are earmarked for the designated institution.

In case you want to get a genuine license plate without the trouble of registering a vehicle, you can have one made to order at the Prison Outlet Store just outside the Arizona State Prison in Florence.

"Nervous driver" or "nerve doctor?" The car's insignia gives it away. 9-00
No points for getting this one. 12-00
If Superman drives a Nissan, what does Clark Kent drive? 1-01
A bit familiar with flashing red lights? 1-01
Don't you just H8 2 B L8? 1-01
You can feel the attitude. 9-00
Just as you suspected, those big 4x4's never really leave the pavement. 2-02
This "girly girl" demonstrates the plate's reflective paint. 2-02
The girlcab opted for the child abuse prevention plates.  $17 of the $25 annual special plate fee goes to child abuse prevention programs.  2-02
A lot more drivers ought to be sporting this plate. 2-02
Order an unofficial but genuine license pate made by genuine inmates from the Prison Outlet store outside the Arizona State Prison in Florence. 2-02
Footnotes and Sources

1. American FactFinder, U.S. Census Bureau. Back to text

2. Office of the Governor, State of Arizona. Back to text

Sources for The USS Arizona:

_______, Ship Naming in the United States Navy, Naval Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard, Department of the Navy, Washington DC., accessed 1-02.

_______, USS Arizona - A Brief History, The University of Arizona Library, University of Arizona, Tucson, accessed 1-02.

David Canfield, USS Arizona (BB-39), Dave's Maritime Museum, accessed 1-02.

Sources for The Arizona Version of the United States Flag:

_______, Facts About the United States Flag, Encyclopedia Smithsonian, Smithsonian Institution, 9/01.

_______, The Flag of the United States of America, History of the flag

Duane Streufert, "Evolution of the United States Flag," The Flag of the United States of America,, 20 November, 1994.

_______, The 48 Star Flag.

Sources for The Bola Tie:

_______, The American Heritage� Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition � 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Eric Gibson, "The Bola Tie," Men's Neckware, accessed 1-19-02.

Philipp Goedicke, "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!", National Public Radio, broadcast December 2, 2001.

Sources for Arizona License Plates:

_______, Special License Plates, Motor Vehicle Division, Arizona Department of Transportation, accessed 2-19-2002.

Drewski, "Arizona,", accessed 2-10-2002.

Kanaya, Nick N., "Arizona General Issue License Plates," Nicks Pl8s Showcase, accessed 2-12-2002.

This page was last revised on 07/13/04.