Love can often weigh heavy on the heart. Now it seems that tokens of love can also be strong enough to take down a bridge, according to authorities in Paris, where a metal grill laden with padlocks along the The Pont des Arts footbridge over the Seine collapsed. The locks, left by couples to symbolize “their enduring love,” have been popping up on several of the City’s bridges (as well as those elsewhere in Europe) and are now posing a serious problem that needs to be addressed according to Bruno Juillard, Paris's (elected) head of cultural affairs.
“This incident confirms that our desire to find an alternative to these locks is a real necessity,” he stated.
The locks are generally inscribed with lovers’ names, and their keys are usually tossed into rivers beneath the bridges. Although they have been used in Serbia for at least 100 years, their popularity did not spread to the rest of Europe until the early 2000s. Their use in Rome, in fact, is often attributed to the 2006 book (and later 2007 movie) “I Want You” by Federico Moccia. Since then more than 5,500 love padlocks affixed to the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, Italy have been removed by the city council, where they were said to “ both pose an aesthetic problem as well as scratch and dent the metal of the bridge.”
Other cities throughout the world “plagued” by love locks now range from Seoul, South Korea to Moscow, and from Dublin, Ireland to Toronto, Canada, where they were taken off the Humber Bridge, while officials report seeing them along the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, just to name a few. Although the German government threatened to have the locks removed from the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, it backed off after public protests against the move.