April 16, 2007

Ranking the Arizona State Quarter Designs

The Arizona Republic has an article today on the Arizona state quarter that's scheduled to be minted next year. The website for Governor Janet Napolitano has an online poll that allows the public to rank the five contending quarter designs. The Republic article is somewhat snarky toward the various designs, which I've included in this post.

"Grand Canyon"

The good: The Grand Canyon is Arizona's biggest tourist attraction, with 5 million visitors each year.

The bad: It's not all sunsets and fun. A National Park Service Web site warns: "Every year, scores of unprepared hikers, lured by initially easy downhill hiking, experience severe illness, injury, or death from hiking in the canyon."

The ugly: Arizona already is known as the Grand Canyon State, and the motto is carried on license plates and three of the five new quarter designs. Can you say "overexposed"?

"Grand Canyon and Saguaro"

The good: Beautifully captures two of Arizona's most iconic images.

The bad: Design is a tad busy with a saguaro, the Canyon AND an image of the sun rising (setting?) over the rim.

The ugly: Uhh, since when do saguaros grow along the Grand Canyon? I know, I know, the little "Grand Canyon State" banner on the design separates the two images. Just keep telling yourself that . . .

"Desert Scene"

The good: Feels like something out of a 1950s Western, with a saguaro stretching skyward and the sun peeking over mountains in the background.

The bad: A hot, dusty image. So thirsty. Must . . . have . . . water . . .

The ugly: Some have sarcastically suggested the image would be a more accurate representation if it depicted a bulldozer knocking over one of the saguaros, clearing the way for another house.


The good: Design memorializes John Wesley Powell, the namesake for Lake Powell who in 1869 led an expedition down the Colorado River that included the first known passage of the Grand Canyon.

The bad: That August, thinking they surely would die if they continued down the Grand Canyon, three members of Powell's crew abandoned the expedition. They were promptly killed by members of a local tribe.

The ugly: Before his adventuring, Powell lost an arm in the Civil War. The quarter design depicts him so.

"Code Talkers"

The good: Honors Arizona's Navajo code talkers, who used their language to create a secret, uncrackable code that was critical in defeating the Japanese in WWII.

The bad: Design has come under fire from critics who say it fails to honor other Native American code talkers, including the Hopis.

The ugly: At least the coin design is a more fitting tribute than the abysmal 2002 film Windtalkers.

My rankings (in the order discussed above): 1, 2, 3, 5, 4.

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