Arizona Highways photo, license plate raise $3 million to fund magazine

Arizona Highways magazine has raised more than $3 million from a specialty license plate featuring a photograph by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jack Dykinga.

The license plate carries a photograph of a sunset at Saguaro National Park west of Tucson. Nearly 182,000 Arizona drivers have purchased the plate since its introduction in 2009.

“We needed a distinctive image to set the plate apart,” said Win Holden, publisher of Arizona Highways, which is produced by the Arizona Department of Transportation. “The simple beauty of this plate is what has drawn so many people to it. It’s a great billboard for our state and for our magazine.”

License plate sales, along with income from subscriptions, calendars and books help fund the magazine, which doesn’t receive money from the state budget, according to a release. Much of the money raised through license plate sales is used for marketing and circulation programs.

Sales of the license plate have increased each year since it was introduced nine years ago, the release stated, and fiscal year 2017, which ended last July, saw a record 29,680 plates sold, raising $504,560. This fiscal year, sales are on pace for more than 30,000 plates and more than $514,000 in revenue, magazine officials stated.

Arizona Highways began as a newsletter in 1921 and became a magazine in April 1925. From the beginning, it contained travel stories and scenic photographs. In the early years, the photos were black-and-white, and the magazine contained pages detailing the Arizona Highway Department’s (now the Arizona Department of Transportation’s) road-building projects. Editors added cartoons to liven up those pages.

“Arizona was one of several states to develop a magazine to entice drivers to explore their newly developed roads. Of these magazines, none dates as far back or has featured the iconic photography that has made Arizona Highways a national treasure,” the release stated.

Mr. Dykinga worked as a photographer for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times before moving to Tucson, where he was a photographer for the Arizona Daily Star until 1985. His photos have appeared in Arizona Highways, National Geographic and other publications.

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The Queen Creek Independent is mailed each month to 24,000 homes.

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