Locks of Love on City Bridges: Love or Litter?
Updated: Jan 5
Love locks are just what they sound like -- locks couples place on bridges to ‘lock’ their love. Traditionally, the key to the lock is ceremoniously thrown into a body of water. The most famous of the locks bridges is the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge over the Siene River in Paris. In fact, the custom of couples locking love on that bridge became so popular that city officials grew concerned about structural safety. In 2015, 700,000 locks weighing an estimated forty-five tons were removed from the bridge! The city replaced the sides of the Pont des Arts bridge with plexiglass so, much to the chagrin of romantics, love locks are no longer an option in that locale. That said, there are dozens of interesting venues around the world where the custom of love-locking is still in full force.
Mount Huashan in China is one of five sacred mountains. Chain link fences on mountainside trails are filled with love locks. Verona, Italy is the famed location of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The fence in front of Juliet's alleged home is filled with love locks. Officials in Moscow, Russia, installed metal trees across the Lushkov Bridge and encouraged the placement of love locks. Due, in part, to these lock trees, the bridge has become a popular tourist destination, especially for wedding parties. Lock trees are also present on Namsan Mountain in Seoul, Korea. Another famous love locks location is Via Dell'Amore in Cinque Terre, Italy. Locks here hang from cliffs on mesh wires!
Not everyone is a fan of love locks, however. Officials in many cities complain that the weight of the locks pose a structural hazard. And, in some locations, love locks have become trashy. Among the locks on the Brooklyn Bridge are condoms, tampons, and bras. Personnel at The Department of Transportation in New York, which oversee maintenance of the Brooklyn Bridge, say they discourage people from leaving locks or trash but their overriding concern is safety. In Paris, frustration with growing love lock locations became so high that two women actually started a movement: No Love Locks.
As for me, I first saw love locks on the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Upon crossing the bridge, I was immediately intrigued by the thousands of locks spanning both sides. The locks ranged from large and heart-shaped to simple locker locks. Some were painted, others engraved. There were few clusters of locks that appeared to have been put there by families or friend groups. As a writer and romantic, I saw thousands of story possibilities in those locks and I tucked the idea away. An opportunity to write about the locks presented itself when Filles Vertes Publishing asked if I would be willing to write a story for a romantic anthology to be released in 2020. The kicker: the story had to be about a cool main street. A bridge is also a street. Right? My story, Love-Locked on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, was born! It’s a story of Sienna Dewey, a young reporter given an assignment to report on Pittsburgh’s love locks for a feature article. As Sienna chases a unique backstory about one of the locks, she finds herself in a romantic conundrum of her own. Will Sienna find love or just report on it?
Love-Locked on the Roberto Clemente Bridge is one of ten stories to be featured in Love on Main, available wherever books are sold in February 2020.