On April 25, 1901, New York became the first state to require license plates by law. The state required automobile owners to register their names, addresses, and description of their vehicle. Each owner was then sent a small license plate, at least three inches high, with the owner’s initials!
Oh and by the way, the fee to register an automobile was only one dollar! In 1901, the state received $954 in registration fees.
Ready more about it at the Old New York Times