Dustin+Andi 4EVA (Photo: Dustin Gaffke on Flickr)
The idea of a “love lock” is that you and your beloved clamp a padlock on a permanent structure (usually a bridge), and throw away the key so that your love can be as eternal as that lock. Unfortunately, not everyone is as sold on your cutesy gesture.
In fact, most sites that find themselves accumulating love locks often try to get rid of them, for the simple reason that padlocks are heavy and there is a already lot of love in this world. Which means that after not too long, the weight of all that affection tends to destroy whatever it is attached to. (There is a metaphor in there somewhere.) One of the most famous love lock locations in the world got taken down this week, after the never-ending stream of whimsical gestures continued causing damage to the historic Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris. Whether you think this is a pragmatic move that protects civic architecture, or a heartless war on pure love, let’s take a look at six lock lock collections from around the world that have inspired both anger and adoration.
PARIS PADLOCKS OF LOVE
Who needs love when you have an accordion? (Photo: Ben Francis on Flickr)
The Paris love locks bridge, mentioned above, is probably the most famous example of the phenomenon, which probably also explains why it is at the forefront of the war on the tradition. As the New York Times reports, the massive panels of locks that had been accruing since the last time they cleared the bridge of love were removed to a warehouse while their fate was decided. This is not the first time the bridge’s delicate ironwork had undergone a cleansing of the locks, but it may be the last. The city plans on placing fiberglass panels over the ironwork so that no more locks can find purchase. But good luck, Paris, the whole point of love is that it find’s a way.
I’m sure every one of these couples made it. (Photo: David McSpadden on Flickr)
That’s a lot of love. (Photo: Connie Ma on Flickr)
COLOGNE’S LOVE LOCKS BRIDGE
I’m not sure what that says, but their love looks, REAL pink. (Photo: Rachel Titriga on Flickr)
In stark contrast to the Paris dismantling, is the Hohenzollernbrücke Bridge in Cologne, Germany, which embraces the trend. The tradition only came to the historic bridge in 2008, but the protective grates have already accumulated tens of thousands of locks, weighing at least two tons. Despite the possible structural issues that might arise from the weight of the lovers’ tokens (not to mention the growing bed of keys at the bottom of the Rhine below), the city has chosen to embrace the trend, advertising it on their official tourism website and all. It may be only a matter of time before the weight of all this everlasting commitment starts to make the city planners nervous, but in the meantime, love is in the air and on the bridge.
Germany is for lovers. (Photo: Gerhard Kemme on Flickr)
Picking a spot for your first love lock is a moment you’ll never forget. (Photo: Rachel Titriga on Flickr)
LOVE LOCKS OF EAST LONDON
But especially his lock buddy. (Photo: MsSaraKelly on Flickr)
It doesn’t take a fancy historical landmark to inspire people to clamp their love on a fence. This chainlink fence in London’s East End neighborhood of Shoreditch has begun to collect some love locks of its own. The barrier protects a vacant lot across from a train station, and is nearly a more pure example of the trend with the locks clearly left by locals as opposed to sightseeing tourists. The fence is likely not as permanent as the historic edifices elsewhere in the world, but hopefully the couples who put locks here will be.
Love isn’t in quite such crushing abundance out in Shoreditch. (Photo: Mark Hillary on Flickr)
I like this love love lock fence because it’s scrappy. (Photo: Berit Watkin on Flickr)
PADLOCK TREE PARK
That is one big padlock. Must be REALLY in love. (Photo: Jason Eppink on Flickr)
In order to combat lovelocking on Moscow’s Luzhkov Bridge, instead of just telling people they couldn’t put locks on the bridge, they gave them a better option. Beginning in 2007, metal frame trees were installed on the bridge for the express purpose of holding the affections of amorous couples. The trees soon became laden with locks, creating strange, bulbous arbors that stand as testaments to the love of countless couples. For a country that is often thought to be pretty cold, the number of relationships these trees represent is pretty heart-warming.
Like metal berries of love. (Photo: Jason Eppink on Flickr)
Love looks a little wilted in the daylight. (Photo: A. Savin on Wikipedia)
MOUNT HUANGSHAN LOVE LOCKS
Love in rarified air. (Photo: Yabbox on Wikipedia)
This Chinese love lock site is located high atop one of the country’s most picturesque and revered mountains. Clipped to the chain guard rails along the high trails, the locks are some of the most unique in the world. One would think that given their more natural setting that the locks would cause more concern, but the tradition has been embraced by the local guides and has begun being associated with a local legend of lost love, despite the more accepted origin in an Italian romance novel. Where many of the other love lock collections seem chaotic, the locks on this mountain seem positively peaceful.
Now this little steel nub is a bit harder to cut down. (Photo: Yabbox on Wikipedia)
BROOKLYN BRIDGE LOVE LOCKS
Brooklyn, New York
Poor Stephanie never loved again… (Photo: Michael Asuncion on Flickr)
Nothing gold can stay, and that goes double for the locks on the Brooklyn Bridge. Of course love locks were bound to start appearing on this world famous span, and almost as soon as they did, they began being removed by the city. Nonetheless, New Yorkers are not daunted that easily, and they continue to appear in small clusters. There may not be as many on the Brooklyn Bridge as there are in other places, but in an effort to make them more difficult to remove, the locks began appearing on precarious places, hovering over rushing traffic.
In New York, the love locks are a bit more daring. (Photo: Hannah Frishberg on Atlas Obscura)
(Photo: Hannah Frishberg on Atlas Obscura)