State of the Plate: 100 Years of New York License Plate Designs

New York State DMV

New York State introduced its new blue-and-gold license plates in April. The redesign, the first one in a decade, was initiated by Governor Paterson’s (failed) attempt to get us all to re-register and thus pump cash into the state budget. Since he didn’t get his way, the new plates are not showing up all at once but are filtering out slowly, as cars are sold or re-registered, and they’re just now achieving widespread visibility. In this slideshow, you can see every major variation since the state issued its first plates, exactly a century ago — together with commentary on the big design shifts from Justin Davidson, New York’s architecture critic.