Love lockdown on the Brooklyn Bridge

Posted on 06. Aug, 2013 by in Cities, New York, Photo Essay

On our first ever visit to the Brooklyn Bridge in 2009, there were no locks hanging off every hook and in every nook along the bridge like there are today.
brooklyn bridge new yorkThis isn’t because it was illegal to lock your love up on the bridge then and that it is legal now. In fact, the rules haven’t caught up to the trend here in New York or around the world. Over the past few years love locks have been popping up on bridges and fences in major cities everywhere. We most recently wrote about an entire fountain covered in love locks we spotted in Montevideo, Uruguay.

But New York is a city that has our hearts, which meant it was most fitting for us to lock our love up right here, on the Brooklyn Bridge.

dani and jess lovelockThe trend seems to have taken off first in Italy after the release of the 2004 movie, Tre Metri Sopra il Cielo, based on a 1992 novel by Federico Moccia. The film included a scene where a couple ‘locked’ their love forever by locking a padlock on a bridge and tossing the keys into the river below to symbolize their eternal love. This took place on the Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome, which then immediately became a popular meeting point for couples making their own eternal declarations of love.

brooklyn bridge new york love locksNot long after, love locks started to appear in other places from Korea to China to Australia, Germany or Serbia. We came across them for the first time when we hiked in Cinque Terre in northern Italy, where ‘The Path Of Love’ is covered in love padlocks from couples from all around the globe. Interestingly, Wikipedia has an entry listing all of the world’s popular love lock spots.

Brooklyn Bridge Love LocksIn Paris, the city of romance, the Pont des Arts bridge has evolved into a popular destination for proposals, engagement photo shoots and newly-weds, with the couples adding a love lock to the bridge on their special day.

brooklyn bridge new york love padlocks dir gehoert mein herzIt didn’t take long until the trend had reached North America – the Brooklyn Paper reported about the love lock appearance for the first time in April 2010, just a year after we had walked over the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time.

brooklyn bridge new york love locks and skylinebrooklyn bridge with lovelocksAlthough New York might not hark of the romance of Paris, the phenomenon has most definitely spread and couples are marking their engagements, wedding and declarations of eternal love by locking their own padlocks to this famous landmark.

Brooklyn Bridge Love Padlocks New YorkThe locks themselves range from ordinary padlocks to colorful ones with engraved dates and names.

brooklyn bridge new york love lock steffi danielSo far, the padlocks on the Brooklyn Bridge haven’t reached an extreme like on Cologne’s Hohenzollern Bridge, which holds over 40,000 (!) love locks. But there are at least a few hundred now.

Brooklyn Bridge Love PadlocksWhile this love lock gesture is utterly romantic, it’s not quite legal. Supposedly there is a sign on each end of the sidewalk over the bridge that says “Attachment of any sorts to this bridge structure shall not be allowed.”

brooklyn bridge new york love padlocksWe have crossed over this bridge several times now and neither of us have seen the sign – otherwise we might not have added our very own padlock to the collection. While it seems as if the authorities turn a blind eye to the locks on the pillars, benches and railing, the many locks that are added to the street lights are removed regularly, to ensure the safety of the drivers who pass below the lamps. You can see how this lamp pole was pulled down by the weight of love…

brooklyn bridge new york love locks lamp poleA lamp pole being overloaded with love locks has happened before – at the most famous of the love lock bridges, the Ponto Milvio in Rome. The lamp post that was covered in locks partially collapsed in 2007, which resulted in the removal of the locks and the introduction of a €50 fine for anyone trying to add a padlock to the bridge.

brooklyn bridge new york love locks lamp poleWhile there might be some naysayers who feel that the locks disrupt the natural look of the bridge, the two of us, romantics that we are, think that it is a beautiful gesture for lovers to promise everlasting love to each other in such a simple, yet public way.

Love Locks Brooklyn BridgeSymbolic gestures of love seem to appear less and less today with people acknowledging anniversaries in status updates on Facebook and e-cards replacing thoughtful love letters. That’s why we personalized our own padlock with Dani & Jess on the front and our nicknames on the back, locked it on the Brooklyn Bridge and threw the keys into the water below.

Brooklyn Bridge Love Lock GifHow do you feel about love locks – do you think they are cheesy or a meaningful way to seal your love?

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16 Responses to “Love lockdown on the Brooklyn Bridge”

  1. TammyOnTheMove

    07. Aug, 2013

    The locks weren’t there when I went to NY either, but I have seen some in Cologne and Florence. Your animated gif is soo cute by the way. You two are adorable!
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Blog tools review: WordPress, DreamHost and ProBlogger

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  2. Gabriel

    08. Aug, 2013

    I’d be curious to know how many locks the Brooklyn bridge could hold before it was a danger to the stability of the bridge. I know it’s a lot but one can wonder =)
    Gabriel recently posted..Wallpaper Wednesday – August 7th – I Need a Dollar

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  3. Patti

    08. Aug, 2013

    I think they are cheesy, but I also think they’re sentimental and fun! We saw these locks on the bridges in Paris and I have to admit I was tempted! Love your little film at the end of your post.
    Patti recently posted..Before I Die: #6 ~

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  4. Runaway Brit

    09. Aug, 2013

    I first saw love locks a few years ago in Riga, and while I think it was a nice idea, it is now a nice idea that has become a bit cliched. It’s the modern day equivalent of lovers scratching their initials into trees.

    When I walk past them the cynic in me wonders how many of the couples are still together. I mean, how many couples who break up go back and remove their locks?!

    Having said all that, your animated gif is so damn cute that maybe I’m not so cynical after all…
    Runaway Brit recently posted..The Past and Present of Timisoara, Romania’s First Free City

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  5. Tim

    09. Aug, 2013

    NIce article, my family and I lock lovelocks where ever we go on vacation.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Peter Korchnak

    10. Aug, 2013

    I first saw locks in Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia, in 2011. I thought it was cute, since they were hanging from bars on the window of the building where the great Slovak romantic poet Andrej Sladkovic’s love Marina lived – their love provided him with inspiration to write the greatest Slovak love poem, which he named after her. So it made sense. Then I saw the locks on the Paris bridge, looked into it as you did, and realized it’s a fad. But if it makes people happy, it can’t be that bad, right? My inner cynic says lock makers are excited and wonders how long before we’ll see Sponsored by Brinks (or some other corporation) places pop up everywhere…
    Peter Korchnak recently posted..Pilgrims, globes, and communism: Why specialized museums rule

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  7. Kathryn Burrington

    24. Aug, 2013

    I’ve recently got engaged and my fiancé (still can’t get used to saying that!) has mentioned about making a special lock to take with us to Paris next time we go. He’s a prop maker for films (usual making armour for films like Thor) so I’m rather curious as to what he’s got in mind!
    Kathryn Burrington recently posted..London days out: The Natural History Museum

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    • Dani

      29. Aug, 2013

      Congratulations!! That’s fantastic news. Where did he propose? Yes, definitely lock up your love in Paris next time you go! I love the Ponts des Arts. Take a million pictures when you do it and please share them on your site 😀

      Reply to this comment
  8. Kathryn

    01. Sep, 2013

    Thank you! He proposed sitting on the pebbles of Bognor beach (if you lived in England you’d probably be sniggering right now as Bognor is not known for being a romantic place – the butt of many a joke). Something along the lines of.. I’ve been thinking a lot lately and wondered if you might some day, maybe, might want to get married, some day, maybe! He was worried he’d scare me off but how could I say no to that? 😀
    Kathryn recently posted..The deliciously stinky cheeses of Rimini

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  9. Divergent Travelres

    05. Nov, 2013

    This is so cool! The first lock bridge I saw was the iconic one in Paris- Lovers Lock Bridge. I was just drawn to it. I didn’t know there was one in NYC, thanks for sharing!
    Divergent Travelres recently posted..The Vacation Game

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    • Dani

      08. Nov, 2013

      I can’t wait to go back to Paris and take pictures of the Ponts Des Arts!! And to see how many more locks there’ll be on the Brooklyn Bridge next year 🙂

      Reply to this comment
  10. Sussan Morris

    02. Jan, 2014

    Wonderful… such a liberating symbol of eternal love.. “locked” yet free… 🙂

    Reply to this comment
  11. IMHO3

    08. Jun, 2015 “Next time you see someone locking one of these up, explain that their piece of metal garbage doesn’t belong on a goddamn National Historic Landmark.”

    Reply to this comment
    • Dany

      09. Jun, 2015

      Some people love them, some people hate them… You’ll be happy to hear that the love lock we put on the Brooklyn Bridge is long gone.

      Reply to this comment
      • IMHO3

        09. Jun, 2015

        Bravo Dany! Please support the efforts of to rid the planet of this plague. You can find good information on how two women in one year have made such an impact on saving the World Heritage District in Paris. Responsible tourism for globetrotters everywhere. “Leave only footprints, tale only memories.:

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