The 20 Best Town Mottoes from East to West

A town’s motto has to check a lot of boxes. Ideally, it should accurately portray the town’s history, embody its population, and leave a lasting impression on travelers passing through. Here, we’ve rounded up our 20 favorite mottoes from towns across the country. Did yours make the list?

  1. Hampton, Virginia

    Motto of 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. 

    Related: The Best Tiny Towns in Every State

    Wikimedia Commons via Patrick Nouhailler

  2. Trenton, New Jersey

    Motto of 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. 

    Related: 11 Tiny Towns You Can Buy—Yes, Really via Glenn Beltz

  3. Aberdeen, Washington

    Motto of 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.

    Related: 14 Surprising Small Towns the Stars Call Home via Mïk

  4. Gettysburg, South Dakota

    Motto of 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.

    Related: 10 U.S. Towns That Are Older Than America via J. Stephen Conn

  5. Detroit, Michigan

    Motto of 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. 

    Related: After Disaster: 8 U.S. Cities That Went from Ruin to Rebirth

    Wikimedia Commons via Andrew Jameson

  6. San Francisco, California

    Motto of 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.

    Related: The Best U.S. Cities for a Summer Staycation

    Wikimedia Commons via Caroline Culler

  7. Adams County, Nebraska

    Motto of 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.

    Related: Yes, These 20 Weird and Wacky Museums Actually Exist via Dr. Warner

  8. Yuma, Arizona

    Motto of 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.

    Related: The 10 Best American Towns for a Romantic Getaway via Ken Lund

  9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Motto of 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).

    Related: Would You Recognize These 9 Iconic Streets Way Back When?

    Wikimedia Commons via King of Hearts

  10. Hershey, Pennsylvania

    Motto of 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.

    Related: 10 Small Towns with Big Home Bargains

    Wikimedia Commons via Bronayur at English Wikipedia

  11. St. Louis, Michigan

    Motto of 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.”

    Related: 12 Destinations You Should Actually Visit During the Off-Season via Hotel Lunchbox

  12. Austin, Texas

    Motto of 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.

    Related: 20 Beautiful Homes Hiding in America's Most Affordable Cities via Nicolas Henderson

  13. Old Concord, Pennsylvania

    Motto of Old Concord, Pennsylvania

    Sometimes a little cheekiness is all you need in a town motto. The sign for Old Concord, Pennsylvania, lets visitors know that the town was "originally 'Concord.' "

    Related: 15 100-Year-Old Houses That Haven't Aged a Day

    Wikimedia Commons via  Doug Kerr

  14. Richmond, Virginia

    Motto of 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.

    Related: 10 Good Things Your Town May Give You for Free

    Wikimedia Commons via Morgan Riley

  15. Glendive, Montana

    Motto of Glendive, Montana

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

    Related: 20 Must-Visit Mountain Towns Across America

    Wikimedia Commons via Larry D. Moore

  16. Coral Springs, Florida

    Motto of 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.

    Related: 20 Places with (Almost) Zero Crime

    Wikimedia Commons via Legionarius

  17. Gravity, Iowa

    Motto of 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."

    Related: The 22 Weirdest Town Names Ever Put on the Map via deckhand

  18. McKinleyville, California

    Motto of 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.

    Related: Island Living: 20 Tropical B&Bs That Are Only an Airplane Away via Alyson Hurt

  19. Walker, Michigan

    Motto of 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.

    Related: 18 American Towns Every Old-House Lover Needs to See

    Zillow Digs home in Walker, MI

  20. Belle Glade, Florida

    Motto of 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.

    Related: America's 50 Most Exclusive Neighborhoods via Richard

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