Design People & Places

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?

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Hampton, Virginia

Wikimedia Commons via Patrick Nouhailler

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

Trenton, New Jersey via Glenn Beltz

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

Aberdeen, Washington via Mïk

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

Gettysburg, South Dakota via J. Stephen Conn

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

Detroit, Michigan

Wikimedia Commons via Andrew Jameson

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

San Francisco, California

Wikimedia Commons via Caroline Culler

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

Adams County, Nebraska via Dr. Warner

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

Yuma, Arizona via Ken Lund

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

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wikimedia Commons via King of Hearts

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?

Hershey, Pennsylvania

Wikimedia Commons via Bronayur at English Wikipedia

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

St. Louis, Michigan via Hotel Lunchbox

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

Austin, Texas via Nicolas Henderson

“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

Old Concord, Pennsylvania

Wikimedia Commons via  Doug Kerr

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

Richmond, Virginia

Wikimedia Commons via Morgan Riley

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

Glendive, Montana

Wikimedia Commons via Larry D. Moore

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

Coral Springs, Florida

Wikimedia Commons via Legionarius

“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

Gravity, Iowa via deckhand

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

McKinleyville, California via Alyson Hurt

“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

Walker, Michigan

Zillow Digs home in Walker, MI

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

Belle Glade, Florida via Richard

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