The concept of a love lock began with wholesome intentions, and it’s still seen as a way to express your love to a partner in a meaningful way. However, there are certain parts of this idea that aren’t exactly good for the physical areas where love locks are placed. Now that it’s clear what to watch out for, as long as planning is involved, love locks can remain the cultural phenomenon they always have been.
According to the New York Times, love locks gained popularity among young women as a way to protect their love from loss and heartbreak around World War I. This trend of blessing their love via padlock was somewhat common at the time in Serbia, and it’s somewhat unclear how long this practice continued for. It wasn’t until almost a century later, in the early 2000s, that love locks made a massive comeback.
What exactly made love locks so popular all at once isn’t exactly straightforward, but the starting point that’s commonly referenced is Frederico Moccia’s novel Want You, released in 2006. A subsequent film version was also released in 2007. However, this doesn’t explain love locks that suddenly appeared shortly before this event in various locations across Europe.
Though still mysterious, various concerns began to surface about why putting love locks in certain locations was a bad idea. Since many places that were popular for placing locks also happened to be bridges of different sizes, many local governments have sought to remove them due to structural concerns. Love locks, depending on their size, can be heavy anyway – not to mention having hundreds or thousands of them all in one place!
It may be one thing to have a collection of love locks on solid ground, but fixing them to bridges presents a unique problem. One famous example of love locks causing issues is the Pont Des Arts bridge in Paris. After much back and forth between advocates for and against the locks, love locks were ultimately removed from the Pont Des Arts bridge in 2015 due to part of it collapsing as the result of too much weight.
With certain places and structures being inappropriate for love lock placement, some areas have sought to think ahead and designate areas for travelers to install their love locks. For instance, the Big Lock at the Canfield Fairgrounds in Ohio was installed to encourage visitors to place a love lock within a huge steel rooster. Also in Lovelock, Nevada, attaching your love locks is invited at Lover’s Lock Plaza for tourists looking for somewhere off the beaten path to declare their intentions.
It's safe to say that love locks on bridges will remain a safety concern, especially in areas that are historical landmarks with outdated construction. And it’s probably unrealistic to assume this trend will die out since it’s stayed strong for two decades. All anyone can hope for is the ability of governments to be proactive in responding to these issues with creative solutions that’ll please would-be love lock enthusiasts.