Everyone has heard of the Empire State Building, but a startlingly low number of people know it's called that because New York is known as the Empire State. Curiously enough, all American states have an official nickname by which they're known, usually one that is chosen to reflect something about the state's personality, history, or culture. There are states that are known for what is mined from their soil. There are states named for their weather, with a nod to the culture that this enables. There are states that are named for their most dazzling geographical features, from mountains to canyons to carvings.
A lot of people know a few of these nicknames. Typically, the Golden State and Empire State are the most familiar, mostly thanks to their high populations and thus their cultural impact, with a lot of movies set in each and a lot of visitors finding out about them. Other states' nicknames are more commonly known only to their residents, or to people from neighboring states. Some you could probably guess if you thought about it and know a little about what happens within the state's borders. Let's see how well you know these twenty carefully-chosen official state nicknames!
Nevada isn't just called this because of its neighbor, the Golden State. It's because there's silver to be mined there! Some towns came and went pretty fast because of the silver mines.
Florida is sunny most of the year, except when there is a hurricane. Temperatures are very pleasant for some months. Other parts of the year can get very hot and sticky.
South Carolina's state nickname comes from the state tree, the sabal palmetto. This is a lovely-looking variety of palm that has a nice big bushy top. This is why it is also called the cabbage palmetto.
The Garden State was nicknamed by a man named Abraham Browning, who said that New Jersey was a lovely garden. He further described it as a barrel full of good things to eat, with Pennsylvania and New York taking things out of either end!
The yellowhammer is Alabama's state bird. It's a very cute and truly vivid yellow bird that is also known as the northern flicker or yellow-shafted flicker.
Granite is the official state rock of New Hampshire because the state makes a lot of money quarrying its beautiful granite for sale and distribution all over the world. It's possible that a kitchen overseas has a little New Hampshire in it!
Colorado became a state in the 100th anniversary year of the founding of the United States. This is why it is nicknamed the Centennial State.
Arizona has many fine features, but the Grand Canyon is surely one of the most obvious. This vast geographical feature hosts the Colorado River on its path to the sea and is easily visible from a plane - though we recommend going to see it in person.
Georgia is known for its delicious sweet peaches. They aren't much of the state economy, but they're symbolically important. However, with warming temperatures, some growers fear the peaches are in some trouble, as they need a cool period in the winter to develop properly.
Hawaii is the newest state, but that's not why its nickname is "hello." "Aloha" is a greeting in the language of Hawaii's indigenous Polynesian inhabitants, the Kanaka Maoli.
There may not be gold in them hills, but there are gemstones! Idaho is a very beautiful place to go even if you're not looking for gems, with its mountains and excellent skiing.
This state nickname comes from a man named Hoosier who worked on the Louisville and Portland Canal. He was a contractor who only hired people from Indiana, and so the name stuck!
Illinois may be mostly known by people outside the state for the city of Chicago. However, most of the state is not very built up, and it is notable for its sweeping and beautiful prairies.
It is believed that the name Hawkeye State comes from the character Hawkeye in James Fenimore Cooper's book, "The Last of the Mohicans." The book isn't set in Iowa, but two promoters for the state decided it was a cool name.
The buckeye tree is the official state tree of Ohio, due to the many such trees that once covered the state. The tree is named for its nuts, which look like the eye of a buck (male deer).
This nickname comes from Texas' unusual history. It alone among the American states was an independent republic, hence, a lone star. It became a state in the 1845, then left the union in 1861.
The official state tree and state flower of Mississippi is the magnolia. These beautiful flowering trees love the hot and humid climate and so loaned their name to the state itself.
The legend of the nickname "tar heel" comes from the Civil War. Supposedly, North Carolina's men stuck to their ranks as if they had tar on their heels.
Michigan is on the edge of the vast Lake Michigan. This state is thus nicknamed for its most prominent geographic feature, like many.
Nebraska is one of the flattest states: you can pretty much prop up a brick on the gas and drive straight across it. On the way, you'll see the reason for its name - there really is a huge amount of corn there.
Tennessee earned this name during the war of 1812. A lot of its citizens volunteered for the military, thus did not have to be drafted.
Oregon is a very rural state noted for its rivers and extensive forests. That's why it is called the Beaver State, as it has some truly immense beaver dams.
Washington is full of beautiful pine forests that give it its name. It's also home to large portions of the tech and aviation industries.
West Virginia is not a place that many non-Americans think of as being all about mountains, but it's home to two very notable mountains and two ranges. The two mountains are the Knobly and Shenandoah, and the ranges are the Allegheny and Appalachian Mountains.
Wyoming was named this because it truly earned it. It gave women the vote generations before the other states, because as a frontier state, they knew that you need all hands on deck for a strong society. It had to take back the vote to become a state, but gave it back later. The nickname honors its egalitarian past.
Bees are all about discipline, hard work, and thrift. So is the state of Utah. Thus, the bee-keeping industry is symbolic of the state's values.
Rhode Island is not an island, to the confusion of many tourists. It's a peninsula. It's also one of the richest states by income per capita.
This midwestern swing state is one of the most diverse politically. It is also home to the original US capital, Philadelphia.
North Dakota is a state that enjoyed a huge economic boost from the recent fracking boom. As oil prices decline, however, the boom has rather flatlined.
New Mexico hasn't had this nickname for as long as some states have had theirs, officially adopting it only in 1999. It's also known as the Colorful State.
Minnesota is one of the msot watery states, with over 10,000 lakes, as well as a border on Lake Superior. It is also one of the coldest in winter.
Maine is the most northerly and easterly of the Lower 48, though not always the coldest in midwinter. Its capital is Augusta.
Louisiana is on the mouth of the Mississippi River. Due to its beautiful wetlands, it has lots of brown pelicans, which are also the state bird.
Connecticut has been officially called this since 1959, but the nickname is older than this. As an original colony, it claims to be home to the first written constitution in history.
Arkansas is a landlocked state in the South. It is one of the most reliably Republican states in the Union.