The Keystone State

Pennsylvania State Nickname


Signing of the U.S Constitution at Philadelphia Convention

Signing of the U.S Constitution at Philadelphia Convention (public domain image on Wikipedia).

Official State Nickname of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's nickname is "The Keystone State" because it was the middle colony of the original thirteen colonies, and because Pennsylvania has held a key position in the economic, social, and political development of the United States. All State Nicknames

Three of our most treasured documents are associated with Pennsylvania: the Declaration of independence and the United States Constitution (both executed in Philadelphia), and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Pennsylvania's state song mentions the state nickname in the second verse: "Birthplace of a mighty nation, Keystone of the land." A keystone is also featured on the U.S. Mint's Pennsylvania quarter.

What is a Keystone?

The word keystone is from architecture, it describes the central wedge-shaped stone in an arch which holds all the other stones in place.



Architectural keystone on arch.

Keystone arch

Pennsylvania became the second state in 1787. The U.S. Mint's bicentennial commemorative quarter for Pennsylvania's features an outline of the state, a keystone (Pennsylvania's nickname is the keystone state), a statue representing the commonwealth, and the state motto: "Virtue Liberty Independence" (public domain image on Wikipedia).

Pennsylvania quarter

Blue and gold Pennsylvania license plate featuring the "keystone" symbol; photo by Norm Russo (used by permission).

Blue and gold PA license plate with keystone symbol