The State Seal of New York features the state arms (officially adopted in 1778) surrounded by the words “The Great Seal of the State of New York“. A banner below shows the New York State motto Excelsior, Latin for “Ever Upward”. Allegorical figures of Liberty (left) and Justice (right) support the shield and an American eagle spreads its wings above on a world globe. Liberty’s left foot treads on a crown, a symbol of freedom from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Justice is blindfolded and holds a sword in one hand and a scale in the other, symbolizing impartiality and fairness.
The center 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 with the sun rising behind it. The current version of the State Seal of New York was last modified in 1882 to depict New York State’s commitment to liberty and justice, its enduring optimism and its faith in the strength of the human spirit. The Seal of New York is dominated by the figures of two goddesses. To the left is the Goddess of Liberty. Holding a pole, on which rests a Liberty Cap, she represents the right of people to live independently and free from oppression and tyranny.
The Goddess on the right, blindfolded and holding the scales of justice, symbolizes the State’s pledge of impartial, fair and equal treatment under the law for all its citizens. Together, these figures stand as a testament to the twin ideals of liberty and justice for all. Above, an eagle rests atop a globe. Facing west, the eagle symbolizes opportunity and optimism and represents New York’s unique position in the world as the economic and commercial bridge between the East and the West — the old world and the new. Below, the banner exclaims “Excelsior” — the State motto representing our continuous search for excellence and belief in a strong, bright and ever better future.