New York is a state with a long history and a vibrant culture, and its symbols and iconography reflect that fact - from the coat of arms it bears to the numerous flora and fauna considered symbols of the state, New York shows its nature in a million ways.
The coat of arms of New York, which also serves as the focal point of its flag, uses heraldry mostly as a guideline. The shield shows two ships, one with masts and one suited for river travel, to indicate the importance of international and local trade to New York. In the background the sun is rising over hills. The shield is borne by Liberty and Justice on either side, with Liberty stepping on a crown to represent American independence from British rule. Justice, of course, wears a blindfold, in addition to holding a sword and scales to represent fairness and impartiality. The American eagle serves as the coat of arms' crest, and the banner below contains the state motto, "Excelsior", often translated as "ever upward".
One of the best known symbols of New York is the "I ♥ NY" logo that adorns multitudes of shirts, bumper stickers, and more. Originally designed in 1977 as part of what was meant to be a temporary marketing campaign, the logo has gained widespread popularity worldwide. Interestingly, New York has tried to sue and shut down many parodies and knockoffs of the original concept, trying to keep the logo exclusive. Following the September 11th attacks, the logo gained additional popularity, and the original artist produced a redesign that read "I still ♥ NY" and that added a small black dot to the heart. The dot corresponded to the location of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. The logo and its many variations are now known and recognized worldwide, and have become a powerful symbol of New York.
Of course, the state has many other symbols and official representatives. Many of the fauna native to New York serve as official state symbols - the state bird is the Eastern Bluebird, for example. The State Insect is an interesting case, having been originally suggested by a fifth-grader who wanted to see the ladybug represent New York. The nine-spotted ladybug was eventually chosen as New York's official insect, being native to the area. While some of the other choices are logical - the state fruit is, of course, the apple - it is a little hard to see why, say, the state beverage is milk. Still, the diversity of symbols involved is amazing, and together they represent New York life.