Jul 30, 2019

Padlocks of Love

Kudos to the people who decided to turn unused railroad bridges
into pedestrian walkways.  I love the Rail Trail River Walk in Oswego.  The view from the bridge of the river, canal, and Lake Ontario is wonderful.  Even on the hottest day there is a refreshing breeze.  The walk way is much used by walkers and bikers.  Most of the people I pass do not make eye contact or even nod a greeting much less verbalize one. I guess it is ear pod/cell phone syndrome.  The friendliest people I have met on the walk have been from outside the area: Ohio, Arizona, Utah, South Carolina, and Saratoga. Without exception they say “hello” and stop to tell me how much the like the walkway and are enjoying Oswego. 

No one asked about the Padlocks on the bridge.  There are a couple dozen of them. Love padlock dates back at least 100 years when a school mistress in Serbia fell in love with a military officer and they pledged their love to each other on the “Bridge of Love” in their town before he went off to war.  While at war in Greece the officer fell in love with another.  The heartbroken schoolmarm never recovered and died of a broken heart.  Young women of the area began the names of their loved ones on padlocks and affixing them to the railings of the bridge where the Serbia lovers used to meet. 

About 30 years ago love padlocks started appearing in Europe and became more popular after the book and movie “I want You” featured a young couple attaching a lock to a bridge in Rome, Italy as a sign of eternal love.  Traditionally, a couple would pledge their eternal love for one another, put the padlock on the bridge, and then throw the key into the water.  I noticed some are combination locks.
I guess that allows the couple to change their mind. There is always someone on the lookout to make money.  A company sells red padlocks inscribed with the name of the lovers.  There is one red padlock on the bridge but it does not name the lovers.  I first saw the practice years ago in Prague in the early 90s but now the padlocks are in many places.  

The practice has become so popular that some places are calling it an act of vandalism.  Anyone in Rome, Italy attaching a lock to a bridge can be fined 50 EUR (about 55 USD). In Paris, the City of Love, they had to a remove section of the Pont des Art for repairs when parts of the bridge started to collapse under the weight of the padlocks. When padlocks started showing up on one section of Prague’s Charles Bridge where there is a memorial marking the spot where St. John of Nepomuk was martyred a group of people in Prague started to cut the padlocks off. 

While padlocks are the most popular show of love I am not sure what a fence with dozens of bras meant.  I saw one such fence in New Zealand. And, now it seems the Brooklyn Bridge has become another place to hang bras and other unmentionables. 

If you can’t fight them, join them. In Toronto there is a creative steel art installation that spells out “Love” where people are encouraged to put their padlocks. In Russia and Korea they have metal trees where lovers can place their padlocks.