The flag of the State of New York is the state's coat of arms on a blue background. It depicts two supporters:
Left: Liberty, with the Revolutionary imagery of a Phrygian cap raised on a pole. Her left foot treads upon a crown that represents freedom from the British monarchy that once ruled what is now New York as a colony.
Right: blindfolded Justice, with scales and sword.
The unheraldic nature of the Hudson River landscape reveals the modern origin of the coat-of-arms. The crest is an eagle surmounting a world globe. The two ships represent inland and foreign commerce, both of which are important for the state of New York.
The motto Excelsior is a Latin word meaning “higher”, “superior”, “lordly”, and is commonly translated as “Ever Upward.”
The official blazon for the coat of arms is:
Charge. Azure, in a landscape, the sun in fess, rising in splendor or, behind a range of three mountains, the middle one the highest; in base a ship and sloop under sail, passing and about to meet on a river, bordered below by a grassy shore fringed with shrubs, all proper.
Crest. On a wreath azure and or, an American eagle proper, rising to the dexter from a two-thirds of a globe terrestrial, showing the north Atlantic ocean with outlines of its shores.
Supporters. On a quasi compartment formed by the extension of the scroll.
Dexter. The figure of Liberty proper, her hair disheveled and decorated with pearls, vested azure, sandaled gules, about the waist a cincture or, fringed gules, a mantle of the last depending from the shoulders behind to the feet, in the dexter hand a staff ensigned with a Phrygian cap or, the sinister arm embowed, the hand supporting the shield at the dexter chief point, a royal crown by her sinister foot dejected.
Sinister. The figure of Justice proper, her hair disheveled and decorated with pearls, vested or, about the waist a cincture azure, fringed gules, sandaled and mantled as Liberty, bound about the eyes with a fillet proper, in the dexter hand a straight sword hilted or, erect, resting on the sinister chief point of the shield, the sinister arm embowed, holding before her her scales proper.
Motto. On a scroll below the shield argent, in sable, Excelsior.
The coat of arms of the state flag was adopted in 1778 and the present flag is a modern version of a Revolutionary War flag. The original is at the Albany Institute of History & Art.
The legislature changed the field from buff to blue by a law enacted on April 2, 1901.