In some parts of the world — especially Paris — cities are trying to slowly wean citizens and tourists away from the practice of leaving “love locks.” Yet some areas, such as Lockport, New York, are hoping to replicate the love lock’s popularity in order to bring new tourism to their area.
What is a love lock? About 15 years ago, couples visiting European cities began leaving locks on bridges as a symbol of their love. The locks are often decorated or bear the initials of the couple. Soon, many bridges in popular areas become completely covered with locks.
Lockport, NY is hoping that the lock can have special resonance with their namesake. Lockport gets its name from the Erie canal locks within the city, and the new Lockport Beautiful group is hoping that the metal locks, permanently attached to bridge fences and railings, will also become a lasting symbol of the city. This Saturday, padlocks will be available for $5 at the Lockport Community Market, but interested visitors are encouraged to bring their own if they would like. Lockport is encouraging social media users to tag their photos with #lockthelocks.
Why are cities like Paris moving away from locks as a tourist attraction? Many people began complaining that the locks blocked the historic views of famous riverways. This June, the trouble with adding heavy locks to bridge fences became apparent — a five-foot section of Paris’s Pont des Arts collapsed thanks to the 500 added kilos of metal locks.
Removing locks once they accumulate is difficult, as well. Though the locks can be taken off with bolt cutters, it’s an added expense for the city to pay for someone to take them down. And as soon as they are removed, more crowd in to replace them. Rather than penalizing tourists, the city is hoping to enact a “social wall” against the practice. The city is considering distributing flyers that inform tourists that the bridges are UNESCO world heritage sites, and also ban street sellers from banning the paddocks.
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