# RI.gov: Rhode Island Government

State Symbols

Origins of the Seal of the State of Rhode Island

state seal

There is no official documentation from the time when Rhode Island first adopted the word "Hope" on its Seal and flag that explains why this word was chosen. The Rhode Island General Assembly first adopted a Seal for the colony containing an anchor with the word "Hope" above it on May 4, 1664.  The most coherent explanation as to the use of "Hope" comes from the historical notes of Howard M. Chapin published in Illustrations Of The Seals, Arms And Flags Of Rhode Island, printed by the Rhode Island Historical Society in 1930. On pages 4 and 5, Mr. Chapin wrote that the words and emblems on the Seal were probably inspired by the biblical phrase "hope we have as an anchor of the soul", contained in Hebrews, Chapter 6, verses 18 and 19.

State Symbol of American Folk Art: Charles I.D. Looff Carousel

Adopted on May 28, 1985.


The Charles I.D. Looff Carousel (also known as the Crescent Park Carousel) is the state symbol of American folk art. The Crescent Park Carousel is all that remains of a large Victorian-era amusement park, which gave way to suburban development in the 1970s. Today, the carousel is a park by itself, as it still attracts visitors throughout a good part of the year. The Looff Carousel at Crescent Park in East Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the few handmade carousels still in use. It was designed and built in 1895 by Charles I.D. Looff, a native of Denmark, who was one of the earliest and most important manufacturers of carousels. Still functioning on its original site more than 100 years later, the Looff Carousel is one of the surviving examples of a once common American folk art. Because of its cultural significance, the Crescent Park Carousel, nationally recognized as a true masterpiece of wood sculpture, was rescued in the 1970's by a handful of East Providence residents. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites and Places in April 21, 1976. In 1985 the Rhode Island General Assembly proclaimed the carousel as the "State Jewel of American Folk Art". In 1987, the Department of the Interior's National Park Service designated the carousel as a National Historic Landmark. A $1 million restoration effort was completed in 1995.

The carousel features 56 hand carved wood jumping horses, 6 stationary horses, 4 chariots, a camel, a Wurlitzer military band organ, decorative panels, beveled mirrors, faceted glass jewels, electric lights, and colored sandwich glass windows.

Picture and description courtesy of:
Looff Carousel at Crescent Park
Bullock's Point Ave.
East Providence, Rhode Island
United States
Phone: 401/435-7518 or 401/433-2828.

arms of the state

Arms of the State

Adopted in 1882

The arms of the state are a golden anchor on a blue field, and the motto thereof is the word "Hope".

rhode island red

State Bird: Rhode Island Red

In 1954, a state bird election was sponsored by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs, and the Providence Journal Company. The Rhode Island Red beat out its closest competitors, the osprey and ruby-throated hummingbird, and became Rhode Island's official state bird at noon on May 3, 1954. "The Rhode Island Red," Governor Dennis J. Roberts said, upon signing the bill into law, "has become a symbol of Rhode Islanders all over the world."

Adopted on May 3, 1954


State Drink: Coffee Milk

Adopted on July 29, 1993

Coffee Milk is similar to chocolate milk but is made with coffee syrup. A coffee “cabinet” is coffee milk with ice cream (a coffee flavored milk shake). The main ingredient of this shake is "coffee milk," first introduced to Rhode Islanders in the early 1920's. Coffee milk became so popular in Rhode Island that in 1993 the Rhode Island state legislature voted coffee milk as the official state drink. It's called a “cabinet” because its originator kept his blender in a “kitchen cabinet.” Autocrat Coffee Syrup is the preferred syrup in Rhode Island. Autocrat of Rhode Island is a leading provider of premium coffee, syrup, and coffee extract since 1895.

state fish

State Fish: Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)

Adopted on July 13, 2000

The fish commonly known as the "Striped Bass" (morone saxatilis) is designated as the official state fish.

State Flag

state flag

Adopted in 1877

The flag of the state shall be white, five feet and six inches fly and four feet and ten inches deep on the pike, bearing on each side in the center a gold anchor, twenty-two inches high, and underneath it a blue ribbon twenty-four inches long and five inches wide, or in these proportions, with the motto "Hope" in golden letters thereon, the whole surrounded by thirteen golden stars in a circle. The flag shall be edged with yellow fringe.  The pike shall be surmounted by a spearhead and the length of the pike shall be nine feet, not including the spearhead.

State Flower: Violet (viola sororia)

Adopted on March 11, 1968

state flower

The violet was voted as the state flower by school children and announced on Arbor Day in 1897. But it wasn't until March 11, 1968 that the flower was officially adopted as the state flower. Rhode Island was the last state to adopt an official state flower.

State Tree: Red Maple (acer rubrum)

state tree

Adopted on March 6, 1964

The Red Maple was voted as the state tree by school children in the 1890's. But it wasn't officially adopted as the state tree until 1964. In the fall, the leaves turn gold, purple, and scarlet, adding to the beauty of Rhode Island’s forests.

State Fruit: Rhode Island Greening Apple

state fruit

Adopted on June 20, 1991

Developed in Rhode Island around 1796, greening apples retain their sharp taste in cooking. Their flesh is crisp and colored yellow-green.

State Mineral: Bowenite

state mineral

Adopted on May 26, 1966

The state mineral, Bowenite, is a close relative of jade and can be considered a semi-precious gem stone.  It is found in northern Rhode Island and was first discovered in the early 1800's by geologist George Bowen.

State Rock: Cumberlandite

state rock

Adopted on May 26, 1966

The State Rock is Cumberlandite. It is a heavy black or dark brown rock with white markings. It is found South of the Town of Cumberland on both sides of Narragansett Bay. It will attract a magnet, and is estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 billion years old.

State Shell: Quahaug (mercenaria mercenaria)

state shell

Adopted on June 30, 1987

The word quahog comes from the Narragansett Indian name: poquauhock. The quahog's scientific name, Mercenaria mercenaria, is derived from a Latin word meaning "wages." The Native Americans used quahog shells to make beads that they used as money (wampum).

State License Plate: Official License Plate Nickname is “Ocean State"

license plate

Adopted July 8, 1971

The state of Rhode Island first started licensing vehicles in 1904. The first license plates were issued in 1904, were made of porcelain and featured black and white numbers with “Registered in RI.” The current standard issue plates feature the light blue wave on white background with dark blue numbers with the official plate nickname “Ocean State.”

State Quarter Design

Released May 21, 2001

state quarter

Selection of the design began when Governor Lincoln Almond issued an order authorizing the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts to organize a Coin Concept Advisory Panel.  More than 500 design concepts were submitted to the panel, and three finalists were chosen.  Rhode Island residents were invited to vote for their favorite design at area libraries, the Statehouse and via the Internet.  The sailboat design was declared the winner, earning 57 percent of the 34,566 votes cast.

The release of the Rhode Island quarter completes the release of all of the commemorative quarters for the 13 Original Colonies and states.

State Yacht: Courageous, US-12/26

state yacht

Adopted on July 13, 2000

The Courageous, one of the world's most distinguished yachts, raced in more America's Cup campaigns than any other yacht in history. Following the donation of the yacht to the Museum in 1997, Courageous was designated as Rhode Island’s State Yacht.  more (http://www.shgresources.com/ri/symbols/yacht/)

State Tall Ship and Flagship: USS Providence (Replica)

tall ship

Adopted on July 27, 1993

History comes alive aboard the Continental Sloop Providence! This 110' fully rigged sailing vessel is the faithful replica of John Paul Jones' first command. During her distinguished Naval career, the 12-gun Providence sank or captured 40 British enemy ships! She was a square-topsail-gaff-rigged sloop, the first ship commissioned into the Continental Navy and the first command of John Paul Jones. The new Providence is a replica built for the 1976 bicentennial. more (http://www.sec.state.ri.us/library/riinfo/riinfo/knowrhode)

State Tartan

state tartan

This tartan was created as a State tartan by the St Andrews Society of Rhode Island Inc. The Society was founded in 1923. Claire Donaldson of House of Edgar (Woollens) Ltd.

Adopted July 20, 2000

Scottish Tartans World Register: Rhode Island, The State of Rhode Island.