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On April 25, 1901, New York became the first state to require automobile license plates

April 25, 2025

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 25 of April, repeating indefinitely

On April 25, 1901, New York became the first state to require automobile license plates. Each driver was tasked with creating his or her plate – most were made from painted wood, leather, or metal.

The New York requirement for license plates was a sign of the increasing use of automobiles in America. That said, the law came a full two years before any state required its drivers to possess a driver’s license! (And these early licenses didn’t require a test!)

Did you know? Vanity plates came along in the 1930s in Pennsylvania – drivers could add their initials to their plates. Today, Virginia is known as the state with the most active vanity plates.

Fifth Avenue, New York, Joaquín Sorolla, 1911

-Written by Anna Zemaitaitis, Communications and Design Officer

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Date:
April 25, 2025
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