Empire State of Plates: 1970's Gold and Blue are Back

Monday, May 24, 2010

plate banner

You may have noticed something different, a little nostalgic, on the streets recently. Since April 1, the Department of Motor Vehicles has begun issuing what they call 'Empire Gold' license plates.

The plates are a stripped down version of the current blue and white 'Empire Plates.' The state is still in the middle, but the cascading Niagara Falls and city skyline in the right corner are replaced with a solid blue bar. New York is longer called 'The' Empire State, it is simply Empire State.

Jackie McGinnis, a spokesperson for the DMV, says the new plates are still optional right now (meaning unless you're registering a new car, drivers do not need to change their current plates), but for the last six weeks they've sold surprisingly well.

'They have sold 125,000 of them already, so they're showing up around the state, and those are kind of large numbers, we think, so we're pleased with that,' McGinnis says.

She says many of the recent sales were voluntary, meaning from people not registering a new car, just gold and blue plate lovers.

The last time New York sported gold plates was 1973. The final re-design was approved by the governors office.

New plate designs are issued every 10 years. The new plates will cost $25 -- that's $10 more than the previous cost of two plates.

Before 1901, New York drivers made their own plates.

(Images courtesy of

Later the state required vehicle registration.

What's your favorite New York plate?


More in:

Comments [3]

Thomas Seymour

People who think the blue and gold colors are "hideous" on the Empire Gold license plates need to study New York State history! When I ask people in my family if they like retro things, they strongly agree. I like the new plates, and they have a much simpler design over the 2001 plates!

May. 23 2011 01:06 PM
WNYC - WNYC News Blog » The Man With the Gol

[...] (ALPCA), which issues awards each year for the best plate (Oklahoma won for 2009). And when WNYC reported on New York’s new, retro plates (“empire gold” plates), that have began turning up on the [...]

Jul. 02 2010 05:06 PM

We HATE the "new" plates. They remind us of the old plates from the 60's and 70's and we thought they always looked dirty. And, when my husband picked up new plates recently he was under the impression that the new plates were mandatory. Otherwise he would have bought the old version.

May. 25 2010 02:16 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


Latest Newscast




WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public


Supported by