I want you.
I want you not.
In 2006, a book entitled, “I Want You” by novelist and screen writer Federico Moccia set things in motion when it first introduced and later promoted the “love locks” ritual. In the story, the “hero” convinces a potential girlfriend of an invented legend, in which lovers wrap a chain around the third lappost on the Ponte Milvio‘s (a Milvian Bridge in northern Rome, Italy) northern side, lock it, and throw the key into the Tiber.
“And then?” the girl asks.
“We’ll never leave each other,” he says, with no shame.
The young adult novel was so successful, selling 1.1 million copies, and it got turned into a film and soon, life began imitating art. Eventually, the practice spread so far that several other places around the world began “adopting” it. The author himself said that he was stunned when locks and chains appeared on the actual bridge.
And by 2008, the “love locks” trend arrived in Paris – particularly the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge in Paris which crosses the River Seine.
The pedestrian bridge has, over the years, become a shrine for amorous tourists and Parisians alike, who seek to immortalise their love by leaving an initialled padlock attached to its metallic grid railings. While the idea and action was deemed sweet to hopeless romantics, the love locks bridge in Paris started posing problems in 2012.
The fencing on the Pont des Arts crumbled under the locks’ weight as the bridge carries more than 700,000 locks with an estimated combined weight roughly the same as 20 elephants.
As such, workmen in Paris started pulling off hundreds of thousands of padlocks attached by lovers to the “Pont des Arts” bridge on Monday (1st June), afraid the sheer weight of the romantic tokens was putting the 19th century structure at risk.
Deputy Paris mayor Bruno Julliard said in a statement:
It’s the end of the padlocks. They spoil the aesthetics of the bridge, are structurally bad for it and can cause accidents.
He added that at least one section of railing had already collapsed under the weight in a potential risk to shipping on the River Seine below. He also said the existing railings would be initially replaced with panels covered in street art and later this year by plexiglass.
Signs in French and English near the bridge said it would be closed for one week while the locks are removed. The effort will pave the way for a temporary “artistic intervention” until fall, before the final installation of protective glass panels across the bridge.
— Nicolas Alpach (@NicolasAlpach) May 29, 2015
According to CNN, citing Lisa Anselmo, co-founder of advocacy group No Love Locks, the removal of the locks is a “strong first step after a long time of inaction”. But the problem is not contained to Pont des Arts – there are more than more than one million locks on at least 11 bridges and other landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, she said.
We’re guessing that that Paris isn’t the only country bearing the “weight” of the “love locks” as there are other venues around the globe that promote the trend and romanticise it. Although, it’s safe to assume that some of the said venues suffer far less than having their heritage site inevitably destroyed by the locks as they’ve especially built structures i.e. artificial trees to accomodate the locks.
Here are the other “love locks” venues from around the world:
- Ponte Milvio Bridge, Rome, Italy – The place where it all began. The “love locks” ritual on the Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome was inspired greatly by a fictional event in the popular book “I Want You” by the Italian author Federico Moccia.
- N Seoul Tower, Seoul, South Korea – 7 artificial “love trees” were put on the terraces of the tower by the tower’s operators. Those artificial trees are capable of holding great weight, especially designed with the padlocks weight on mind. The tower’s operators also provided a “key bin” for the keys, so those won’t be thrown from the tower.
- Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne, Germany – Love locks started appearing on this bridge over the river Rhine in Cologne, in the year 2009
- Butchers’ Bridge, Ljubljana, Slovenia – The new pedestrian bridge, which crosses the Ljubljanica river, has started collecting its share of love locks in 2010.
- Brooklyn Bridge, NYC, New York, United States – Many love locks were locked to the Brooklyn Bridge, but they are now being removed due to safety concerns.
- Malá Strana district, Prague, Czech Republic – Even in Czech Republic, “love locks” can be found on a pedestrian bridge in the Malá Strana district.
- Vodootvodny Canal, Moscow, Russia – Like the one at N Seoul Tower in Seoul, this one also features artificial love trees. The iron trees can be found on a bridge across the Vodootvodny Canal in Moscow.
- Mount Huang, China – The fences on Mount Huang in China are packed with love locks. Sweethearts lock their soul together on one of the fences and throw away the key to the valleys below.
- Most Ljubavi, Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia – Most Ljubavi, meaning “Bridge of Love”, is one of 15 bridges in the town of Vrnjačka Banja, in Serbia. The bridge is a major destination for love padlocks
Will these too go for good in time to come? Maybe. Who knows?