A coat of arms for Houghton

To the editor:

A city of Houghton’s stature not bearing arms could be assessed along a range from woeful incompetence, to embarrassing absurdity. Every town is special and unique in its own way, with its own identity. Houghton, the city where I lived practically all my life, is however, and in my point of view, a city of exceptional significance.

There is a question as to whether Houghton is to pursue an insular, inward-looking attitude. It should work on its development, its improvement. My wife, Silvia Soares Boyer, was born in Portugal and we got married in the City of New York. Taking the example of New York City, where we live, its coat of arms appears on our wedding license, carved into the buildings of Baruch College and cast in silver in Chelsea’s parkland. While also in Portugal, seemingly every cul-de-sac municipality is armigerous, Houghton branded with a mere miner logo.

But Houghton is no mere small town; it is already a city, already cosmopolitan (with its major university, its significance as a freshwater port). It is the birth place of professional ice hockey in the United States.

Houghton’s ambit, the scope of knowledge about it, the sphere of its activity, is not rightly the Upper Peninsula and Packerland, but the world. Daniell Heights is abuzz with nearly every exotic tongue, up the hill from very advanced research into ceramics, but the streak of false simplicity and modesty still dies hard.

Does Houghton know the image its lack of a coat of arms is sending into most of the world? Brazilian burgs with the main boasting-point a dilapidated wooden garage, have coats of arms. People are interpreting Houghton as a place that is at best unsophisticated, backwards, somehow lacking and at worst the practically does not exist. But these assessments would be unintended by its citizens, and certainly undeserved. And the City Council could correct these with a simple vote.

Houghton should adopt a coat of arms reflecting its beauty. Houghton’s citizens should support the creation of an essential and beautiful symbol of its history and a thing so important for its future, for its place in the world.


New York, NY