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The 20 Best Town Mottoes from East to West

Hampton, Virginia

Hampton, Virginia, was the first continuously English-speaking settlement in America and the site of NASA’s first training ground, both of which give meaning to the town's motto: “First from the sea, first to the stars.” The Langley Research Center, established in Hampton in 1917, was the initial home of Project Mercury and the original training site for the first seven astronauts.

Trenton, New Jersey

In honor of Trenton’s industrial heritage, the phrase “Trenton Makes, The World Takes” was emblazoned over the Lower Trenton Bridge in 1911 by R.C. Maxwell Sign Co. The letters were originally sequin-studded wooden forms, but they were soon upgraded to use electricity.

Aberdeen, Washington

The phrase “Come as you are,” which graces the welcome sign to Aberdeen, Washington, may strike a chord with grunge fans. This city, gateway to the Olympic Peninsula and hometown of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain, added the lyrics to its welcome sign in tribute to the late singer in 2005, 11 years after his death.

Gettysburg, South Dakota

The welcome sign to Gettysburg, South Dakota, tries to clear a few things up for confused travelers. By stating "Where the battle wasn't,” the sign lets visitors know they aren’t on the site of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The actual battleground is about 1,500 miles to the east in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.


Detroit, Michigan

On Detroit’s flag, designed in 1907 by David E. Heinman, is the Latin phrase “Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus.” This motto, which translates to "We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes,” dates back to the fire that destroyed the city in 1805 and is depicted in the background of the city seal that appears on the flag.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco’s motto, “Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra,” translates to “Gold in peace, iron in war.” Adopted as part of the city's seal after devastating fires in the early 1850s, the motto celebrates San Francisco's prosperity, resilience, and courage. It turned out to be prescient: The California city was the point of debarkation for troops in the Spanish-American War in 1898, and less than a decade later San Francisco had to again prove its mettle after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Adams County, Nebraska

Every region has a claim to fame, and Adams County, Nebraska, wants visitors to know theirs. Visitors are welcomed to “The Birthplace of Kool-Aid,” because this southern Nebraska county is where Edwin Perkins invented the sugary drink way back in 1927.

Yuma, Arizona

While not an official motto, “Experience our sense of Yuma” appears in print all around Yuma, Arizona. Spanish explorers discovered the area in 1540, and the city's name probably derives from huma (a Spanish word for "smoke"), a reference to the cooking fires of the Native Americans.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is famously known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” a motto derived from the name itself: Philadelphia is the union of the Greek words for “love” (philos) and “brother” (adelphos).

Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hershey, Pennsylvania, earned the moniker “The Sweetest Place on Earth” thanks to Milton S. Hershey’s world-famous chocolate company. The factory that Hershey built in 1903 on the site of what became the eponymous town was the first in the United States to mass-produce chocolate.

St. Louis, Michigan

This small Michigan town is smack in the center of the mitten-shaped state—which is why it’s warmly referred to as the “middle of the mitten.”

Austin, Texas

“Keep Austin Weird,” the unofficial motto of Austin, Texas, was devised by a community college librarian who was concerned that Austin was becoming over-commercialized. The slogan celebrates the city’s eccentricity as well as its burgeoning creative businesses, which reportedly contributed to a 25 percent increase in Austin’s economic impact.

Old Concord, Pennsylvania

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia, found inspiration in Roman poet Virgil for the city's motto, “Sic itur ad astra.” This phrase from The Aeneid translates literally to “thus you shall go to the stars,” and refers to the path to immortality.

Glendive, Montana

The motto of Glendive, Montana, probably well describes the town's 5,000 residents: “Good people surrounded by badlands.”

Coral Springs, Florida

“Everything under the sun” is a pretty solid slogan for a sunny community like Coral Springs. The city also boasts abundant parks, quality schools, and a thriving business scene.

Gravity, Iowa

Who says science can’t be fun? The welcome sign to Gravity, Iowa, proudly touts, "We're down to earth. If Gravity goes, we all go."

McKinleyville, California

"Where horses have the right of way" may not now be the motto of McKinleyville, California, but the town’s equine residents still have it made. Locals can ride their horses along sandy stretches of beach in the area.

Walker, Michigan

The township of Walker, Michigan, was officially established in 1837. Their slogan, “From Solid Roots... Strong Branches,” captures the town's historic strength and persistence.

Belle Glade, Florida

The Everglades Experiment Station was introduced in 1921 just east of Belle Glade (short for “Belle of the Glades”) with the mission of turning former swampland into productive farmland and communities. Today, the town’s motto, “Her soil is her fortune,” nods to the area's agricultural history.

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