Love locks in America are a fairly recent phenomenon. Initially, they were inspired by a Serbian love story from around World War I, but the new craze really took off after the 2006 publication of Federico Moccia’s novel and subsequent movie, I Want You. People began attaching them as an act of tying their love together forever, usually on any bridge in a city that was important to them. Many couples have flocked to the Brooklyn Bridge to perform this act of love.

The Good And The Bad

When they are first hung, these locks can be very beautiful, but there is a damaging after effect of this demonstration. Because of the combined weight of the padlocks and the rust that can gather very quickly, a lot of bridges begin to see structural damage from these love locks. The most prominent example of this damage is the Pont des Arts in Paris, France.

A rough calculation was done in early 2015, and it was estimated that there were over 45 tons of locks attached to the links of the bridge. As the railings of the bridge began to buckle, and Paris residents began to complain about the eyesore, city officials ordered all the locks removed and proceeded to attempt to make the bridge as lock-proof as possible.

On the Brooklyn Bridge, in addition to the locks, people are also attaching trash with their locks. They not only dirty the bridge, but because of where they are hung, the risk they pose isn’t just to pedestrian traffic, but also passing cars. At first, a group of people who pick locks for sport removed the locks themselves, but after that the city took over the lock and trash removal.

Something To Think About

This is a debate that is going on around the world: should the cities respect the expression, or should they prioritize the preservation of historic passageways? Some cities have manage to find a happy medium. Moscow, for instance, has placed metal trees for the specific purpose of hanging locks on a bridge in the middle of the city. The guardrails on their bridges are completely lock-free.

Many cities are taking the initiative to remove the locks, prioritizing the safety and security of the bridges over the love locks’ significance to their owners. This is an issue that each city has to evaluate on their own terms, but is truly becoming a divisive one. It will eventually come down to each bridge’s structural integrity as well as the emotions of the city’s leaders.

But here’s some food for thought…you’ve hung the lock, said the vow, thrown the key into the river.

What if the marriage doesn’t last?

Now that’s a sobering thought.