In cities all across the world, from Paris to Beijing to Kanab UT, lovers have begun a beautiful tradition: Locks of Love. Following in the foot steps of its predecessors, Oakland residents have taken the 1st step in creating their own Locks of Love on Lake Merritt.
If you've read my November 2012 post, Love locks on the Seine I featured Pont des Arts in Paris - it is one of the most famous Locks of Love bridges. If you didn't happen to catch it and to see the pictures, click the link.
Below is a little more info to bring you up to speed.
Locks of love are the padlocks fixed by loving couples, on to a fence or a pole or metallic chain/string alongside some wall etc at a public place, to symbolize their eternal love.
A couple selects a padlock and puts their name or initials on it (many people inscribe their names with a marker but there are also some beautifully engraved locks as well).
Some use giant padlocks. Others use tiny locks. There are steely locks that glitter in the morning, and copper locks that glow at sunset. Some have ribbons. Some are plain. The backs of the locks are often inscribed with the date they met or were married.
Then they attach the lock to the bridge. Turn the key. And together they throw the key into the water. Their love is locked forever. No one can break the bonds of their love. And, it's not just for lovers, friends and family members have also joined in. I think its all so romantically cool!
The tradition probably originated from China where the love locks can be seen at several locations alongside the Great Wall of China and also in many temples and on the steps/paths leading to sacred peaks.
As per the story, a young man trying to win heart of a girl, tells her that there is a tradition of putting a padlock in an old bridge in Rome, and tossing the key in the river makes their love last forever. This started a new trend and couples began putting their locks onto a street lamp on Ponte Milvio. Soon there were more locks than the lamp post could handle. The authorities initially tried to stop this practice but later relented and have now placed special chains for the locks to prevent damaging the lighting pole of the bridge.
In USA, lovelocks came to the city of Lovelock, Pershing County, Nevada, USA as tourism business promotion. On Valentine's Day, 2006, a dedication ceremony was held to start the tradition of at the new Lover's Lock Plaza near the courthouse in downtown. Nevada Commission of Tourism also started a new marketing campaign to bring motorists travelling on Interstate80 to the town by placing large bill boards. They even have a web site to promote lovelocks.
Love padlocks are now also becoming a trend in New York. Hundreds are hanging on the famous Brooklyn Bridge. Even bucolic Los Gatos, California's Main Street Bridge has joined in with not only anniversaries and engagements but birthdays and graduations. At the top of Mount Erie near Anacortes, Washington, locks have appeared at the viewpoint overlooking Fidalgo Bay and Mount Baker. Love locks are appearing on the "Purple People Bridge", a pedestrian bridge connecting Cincinnati, OH to Newport, KY.
Other US Locations:
Love padlocks can be seen in Guam's "Two Lovers' Point" (Puntan dos Amantes). Couples would usually affix the lock to the metal barrier on the viewing deck overlooking the ocean, usually with their names on it or even important dates. A variation of this is the use of plastic bag tags that are sometimes purchased at the nearby souvenir shop when a conventional padlock is unavailable. Recently, Chicago has seen the rise of this tradition. The DuSable bridge (also known as the Michigan Avenue Bridge) has become a popular location for couples to affix their locks.
In Marquette, Michigan an unknown couple have started the trend by attaching a love padlock to the Presque Isle Lookout.
In the city of Napa, CA: a small pedestrian foot bridge connecting the Napa Valley Wine Train station to the Wine Train's boarding platform has been dedicated to lovers all over the world.
In the City of San Diego, CA: on the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park.
Love padlocks are showing up seemingly everywhere in Southern Utah.
Kanab, UT—The memorial "lovescape" for fallen officer Brian Harris is located - Lost but not Forgotten, visitors welcome to lock their love at this gate.
Springdale, Utah—Love padlocks are showing up on a giant "Dream Catcher" at Zion Canyon Village, just outside of the Zion National Park entrance. Couples and tourists are "locking their love" and just saying "I was here"!
St. George, Utah, Main Street—The love locks are on a beautiful gate in front of a historical home.
Columbus, Ohio: On the Olentangy Bikeway, on a bridge over a small stream just south of Antrim Lake.
University Place, WA: At Chambers Bay, on the bridge over the railroad tracks.
Hawaii -- Oahu -- Makapuʻu lookout
There are only about 7 locks so far on the bridge in Oakland but I hope it will catch on. The downside is that in many cities the locks have been removed from the bridges, the city citing that the many locks adding too much additional weight to the structures. In this case, the lovers have either returned to put the locks up again, or in some cases, other alternative spaces have been designated for the padlocks. Here's hoping the tradition in Oakland takes hold.