The lovely, and newly-wed, Richard and Wendi have commemorated their love for one another by putting a love lock up at the designated spot in India Point Park! They used an antique padlock that Wendi had been saving for a special art project, and considering how attached she was to it, I’m really honored that she contributed it to this! After they hung their lock, they walked down to the water, and tossed the key into Narragansett Bay… high-fives ensued.
Having just attended their wedding, I was especially excited to have them want to do it! Now they’re both off to Madison for Richards work, so it’ll be nice to have a little reminder of them here in Rhode Island.
I really should get on that invitation that I’ve been promising… And, I will, I swear! Until then, I hope you’ll get over to India Point Park and put up a lock of your own!
So, today I got an email from my Father about a news story that he had heard recently about love padlocks. After scouring the internet, I found an article about the padlocks of love that have been collected on the railings of the Pont des Arts, above the Seine River in Paris. Sadly, Parisian municipal authorities cut off a large portion of the locks late on Wednesday night. According to the Reuters article, tourists and locals were baffled as to why the authorities would want to ruin romance in a city whose reputation as a haven for lovers is a huge draw for visitors from around the world. Only a small number of locks have survived the cull, but since Wednesday some new ones have been put up too. It seems that sentimental love and emotional contagion will overrule the authorities desire for bare railings.
The first lock has been affixed to the newly designated space for commemorative padlocks! Actually, I encouraged my parents to be the first pair to use a lock to symbolize themselves. My father is a pretty dedicated collector of tools and hardware, so he was able to supply an antique lock for the wall, and my mother used nailpolish to sign their initials on the lock. Initially, I thought that they’d be apprehensive about defacing private property, my dad especially, but they were really excited about the whole idea! After my parents permanently fixed their lock to the fence, they walked across India Point Park and threw the key into the ocean!
After blogging about the Love Locks a while back, I noticed that the only location within the United States that Love Locks were being collected was in Guam, which is a pretty unattainable location for most of us to access. Love Padlocks are a custom by which sweethearts affix padlocks to a fence or similar public fixture to symbolize their love, or they’re used to commemorate a loved one. I found myself attracted to the memorial aspects of this guerrilla tradition, and how such simple devices are used to permanently mark emotions, loved ones, wishes, or memories. Naturally, I’d like to have an opportunity to have a collection point a little closer to home than Guam.
So, I’ve been scouting out locations to start a collection locally. Unfortunately, Providence urban planners have been pretty diligent about not using building materials that would be conducive to having padlocks attached to them. Traditionally, the site of a Love Padlock grouping is on a bridge or scenic outlook; that way the people who leave their lock can throw the key into the water or down the side of a cliff. It’s a nice symbolic gesture alluding to how the sentiment that is commemorated by the lock will last as long as the lock is in place. But, here in Providence there is no chain link, or fences with smaller rails by the rivers… Except for in India Point!
On a recent bike I ride, I noticed that the new hardscaping for the India Point Park overpass was done with really nice square link fencing, perfect for locking things to it! And, the location is just a short walk away from the Bay, where the keys can get tossed into the water! I’m going to be making up anonymous invitations to post around in order to get people to initiate the collection… so keep an eye out, or just go stick a lock over there ASAP!Images from top to bottom: Metal chain-link railings at Mount Huang, China, adorned with padlocks, the keys ceremoniously thrown to the bottom of the cliff; Love padlocks on the Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor in Paris; Future site of Love Padlocks in Providence’s India Point Park.
I just came across an interesting news story about the new phenomena of ‘love locks‘ in Cologne, Germany. Apparently, the officials in Cologne are baffled by the new romantic tendency to padlock ‘love locks‘ on the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge that stretches across the Rhine River.
According to this new custom, couples close the padlock and then toss the key into the Rhine to signify their enduring love. Commemorating the couples’ devotion to each other, there were originally only about 10 padlocks permanently affixed to the bridge, but the number has now grown to the thousands. Some have scratched their initials in the metal locks, while others have gone as far as having them professionally engraved to honor anniversaries, weddings, or other important dates. Apparently, the tradition began in Italy, and has slowly been spreading across the world.
This commemorative act is a very Victorian sentiment, so I found it to be intriguing. I really appreciate the symbolism of jointly sealing a token and relegating the key to the Rhine. The collection has become a physical index of peoples emotions. Aside from the sentimentality of the act, the locks themselves look beautiful on the bridge. I’ve attached a photo below of a collection of heart shaped locks from The Victoria and Albert Museum, which I though were appropriate to accompany this story. If you want to learn more, I came across an interesting wikipedia page that references other communities that have adopted this symbolic gesture.
Images: top and middle: ‘love locks‘ on the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge; bottom: Gold, enamel, and gem set hear shaped padlock clasp pendants, 1855.