Accessibility links

The Garden State, the Granite State and the Empire State

Pueblo Bonito in northern New Mexico. (Nate Crabtree Photograpy)

Pueblo Bonito in northern New Mexico. (Nate Crabtree Photograpy)

​Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

Nebraska is the only state to have a nickname that honors sports teams. The state university's athletic teams are nicknamed "Cornhuskers" in recognition of one of the area's chief crops. The state borrowed the Cornhusker nickname from the university.

The western desert state of Nevada is called the "Silver State." It was once home to many silver mines and towns that grew up around them. Today, most of them are empty ghost towns.

New Hampshire -- in the northeast area called New England -- is the "Granite State" because of that colorful rock.

New Jersey is between the big cities of New York, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It got its nickname -- the "Garden State" -- because New Jersey truck farms once provided vegetables to those big cities.

New York -- which always thinks big -- was called the "Empire State" because of its natural wealth. The most famous Manhattan skyscraper got its name from the state. It is, of course, the Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

If you get a chance to see a red sunset over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, you will know why that southwestern state is called the "Land of Enchantment."

North and South Carolina were one colony until 1729. South Carolina's nickname is the easier of the two: It is the "Palmetto State" because of a fan-leafed palm tree that grows there. North Carolina is the "Tar Heel State." That is because many of the men who worked to gather substances from trees wore no shoes. They would make turpentine from tar and get the black, sticky tar on the heels of their feet.

Next week, we will finish telling about the colorful nicknames of American states.

Show comments