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Paris Bridge is for Too Many Lovers

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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Police evacuated a historic Paris footbridge Sunday (June 8) after a section of railing collapsed under the weight of padlocks left behind by love-struck tourists.

Metal locks meant to symbolize eternal love caused several feet of metal grate fencing to cave in on the Pont des Arts footbridge over the River Seine in central Paris. No injuries were reported, and the bridge was temporarily shut down until the failed railing was replaced with a wooden board.

"Love locks"—a practice in which couples etch their names on a padlock, secure it to the bridge, then toss the key in the water—starting popping up on the Pont des Arts bridge in 2008.

Pont des Artes
Twitter / @eric_sennse

This wasn't the first time that Paris officials have had to replace sections of the Pont des Arts bridge railings because of the added weight of the padlocks.

The original bridge,with nine arches, was built at the turn of the 19th century and was the first metal bridge in Paris.The current bridge, a near-replica with just seven arches, opened in 1984.

Now, all 509 feet of the footbridge's length is covered in locks, adding weight that has been weakening sections of railings for several years.

Disaster Avoided

A French police spokesperson said it was lucky that the railing collapsed onto the bridge, rather than crashing into the river below.

"It it had landed on a passing boat, the results could have been disastrous," the spokesperson said, according to

The damage occurred just weeks after New York City transportation officials started pleading with lovebirds to stop the same practice on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Removing locks from the Brooklyn Bridge has added to the $500 million cost of its rehabilitation and repainting work, officials said.

Alternative Amour

Last month, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo invited a public discussion on the love locks "phenomenon," with a focus on seeking alternatives.

In 2010, the city government warned that the ritual was posing problems, noting that two sections of railing had already been replaced.

Wikimedia Commons / TCY

Locks started appearing on the bridge in 2008, and the entire length of the structure is now covered.

"Paris claims the title of the capital of love and has hitherto shown a certain tolerance regarding padlocks," the city stated in 2010.

"Nevertheless, if the tradition continues to grow in popularity and causes too much damage to the city's monuments, solutions will be considered in a bid to address the problem without breaking the hearts of those who have sealed their undying love for each other to the Parisian bridges."

Bruno Julliard, the city's head of cultural affairs, said the collapse "confirms that our desire to find an alternative to these locks is a real necessity," according to media reports.

'Out of Control'

Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff, two Americans living in Paris, launched a "No Love Locks" campaign in February to petition city officials to ban the locks.

"It's so out of control," Anselmo told "People are climbing up lampposts to clip locks on, hanging over the bridge to put them on the other side of the rail, risking their lives to attack one."


Tagged categories: Bridges; Graffiti; Maintenance coating work; Rail; Rehabilitation/Repair; Trends

Comment from Rick Thomas, (6/12/2014, 7:37 AM)

Heavy Hearts?

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