Monday, June 6, 2011

License Plate Game

Washington, D.C., is a great place to play the license plate game because (perhaps more than any other place in the United States), people come here from all over the country--with their cars. 

As I was driving around this weekend, I was thinking about which license plates are my favorite.  While I love the cheeky, in-your-face plates on my own car decrying the lack of representation for the District, my favorites are still the classic Rhode Island plates, with the simple ocean swirl, and the Stars Fell on Alabama plates, though I confess that it took me the longest time to figure out the reference (hearing the song for the first time was a real Aha! moment).  The latter plates have since been replaced by Sweet Home Alabama plates, so the state is obviously sticking with the musical theme.  Rounding out my top four are the Colorado mountain plates in green and white, which seem to symbolize Colorado so well. 

Given how much thought I've put into this issue, it should be no surprise that I find the website, which has an index of U.S. license plates dating to 1969, to be fascinating.  Not only does it highlight the transformation license plates have undergone, from simple one- or two-color tags to much more elaborate plates that tell a story or make a statement (also a result of the shift from embossed to flat plates).  It's also chock full of interesting trivia.  For example, in 1971, New Hampshire ditched its previous wording "Scenic" in favor of the now infamous slogan "Live Free or Die."

(license plate pictures courtesy of David Nicholson)

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