by James McNair
134 days ago
Posted In: Government
at 10:41 AM | Permalink
Bye, bye “Beautiful Ohio” plate, hello word scramble
In case you haven’t noticed, Ohio has gained a new
distinction among the 50 states — that with the ugliest license plate.
Gone, after just three-and-a-half years, is the “Beautiful Ohio”
plate, a bucolic affair that managed to combine green rolling hills, a red
barn, a city skyline, trees, a yellow sunburst, the Wright Brothers’ plane and
the year of statehood. The Automobile License Plate Collectors Association gave
it second place in its Best New License Plate contest in 2009.
The new standard-issue plate, which went on sale April 15,
is called “Ohio Pride” (no, not that pride). The word Ohio appears on a wide,
red isosceles triangle bleeding from the top of the plate. And behind the plate
number is a background of 46 slogans, identifiers and products “describing what
makes Ohio a great state.” Such as: “State of Perfect Balance,” “The Heart of
it All,” “Newark Earthworks,” “Serpent Mound,” “Polymer Capital of the World,”
“Steel City” and “Walleye.” It is devoid of images.
Pity the passing driver who tries to make out any of the 46
words and phrases. Because they are jammed together in light gray lettering,
they blur into a hazy backdrop. Don’t take CityBeat’s
word for it. Pull up behind a car with one of the new plates. Maybe you’ll be
able to make out two of the larger-print items, “Birthplace of Aviation” and
The cacophony of slogans and products gives the new Ohio
plate an edge over the regular plates of many states, said Greg Gibson,
president of the ALPCA. But he, too, was confounded by their legibility. “I
doubt that the slogans can be read at any distance,” he says.
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokesman Dustyn Fox said no
one in the Kasich administration objected to the Beautiful Ohio plate, which
was designed with the help of former First Lady Frances Strickland.
“Traditionally, each new administration redesigns the Ohio
plate,” Fox says. “A selection committee made up from BMV officials, Ohio
Department of Public Safety officials and representatives from the governor’s
office choose final designs. The governor and first lady make the final
The review panel considered five or six designs before
settling on one submitted by students at the Columbus College of Art and
Design. The selection, however, represents an act of artistic regression in a
milieu that has gone wild for visual elements in the past decade. Wyoming, for
instance, has a bucking bronco, Oklahoma a Native American archer, Utah a skier
and South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore. Elsewhere, we see trees, mountain ranges,
peaches, oranges, a cactus, a pelican and a buffalo.
Closer to home, Indiana has a blue license plate
depicting the state seal, but which looks like a clock face in traffic.
Kentucky plates bear the slogan “Unbridled Spirit” and the head of a hurtling
race horse. Cleverly, they also show the vehicle owner’s home county, which
allows police officers to snag out-of-county drivers for traffic violations.The following are the four license plate designs that were considered by the state BMV: