Monday, August 18, 2014

The Love Lock Bridge

The Art Nouveau Paris Metro sign
There is a wonderful quote by Amy Thomas in her book, Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light that goes like this:
I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you.  You search for answers. You wonder what it all means.  You stumble, and you soar.  And, if you're lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.
I've been fortunate to see Paris a few times in my life.  My friends Glenn and Angie also got to visit there this summer.

The obelisk at the Place de la Concorde silhouetted against the settting sun
...and as the l'heure bleu descends upon a bustling city of light, two American tourists check out the Pont des Arts, or, as it is now called: Love Lock Bridge.

Angie on the bridge
"Love Locks" are appearing in cities and towns around the world.  The idea is that you and your sweetheart attach a lock, perhaps with your names and initials written on it, onto a bridge.  You throw the keys into the river below as a symbol of your eternal love - a love never to be undone. 

A British newspaper credits this craze to a novel by Italian author Federico Moccia, who included a romantic padlocking scene in his 2006 book.

The Love Locks
 - from the L.A. Times
In Paris, the beautiful Pont des Arts footbridge was so weighed down by the thousands of locks attached to its sides that a section of the grillwork actually collapsed in June of this year!

You can see the temporary wooden panel over the missing section in the photo below.
The Damaged Bridge in Paris
- from the L.A. Times 
This rather weird tradition has already crossed the pond to New York.  Last year, New York City's rather unromantic transportation department removed 5,600 locks from the Brooklyn Bridge.  Yup, they just invested in some bolt cutters and went crazy.

Fearing bridge collapses, some European cities have also started to crack down on the love lock lovers, making it a crime to attach the love locks.  They are also using bolt cutters to remove them from the historic bridges they appear on.

So, what do you think?  Romantic gesture, or public nuisance?

There was no experience, I thought, quite as wonderful as being an American in Paris.
-Ann Mah

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