Portland is catching up with major European cities in some odd but interesting ways. That’s just like Portland, isn’t it?
In the last 5 years a lock fetish has swept some of the major cities of Europe. We’re talking about Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest and Rome. Farther afield, in Tokyo. On some of these cities’ most iconic bridges, thousands of visitors have left small padlocks, neatly attached to the metal railings.
I think our bridges are just trying to keep up with the times. The locks are sort of a bridge’s version of the metal studs we see in the ears of our baristas every morning.
For the people placing the locks, they’re apparently a metaphor for undying love and affection. For the maintenance departments in those cities, and for those people with no sense of humor (and this includes all the people in maintenance departments the world over) the locks are a source of emotions ranging from annoyance to outright anger.
And, no surprise: the French have used the locks as an occasion to vent the self-regarding French philosophy of love and to contrast it unfavorably with that of the US.
Here’s a web site with some great images. You’ll need to cut and paste the entire thing into your browser. If Facebook doesn’t let it get through, just go to “locks on bridges in Paris” in your favorite web browser.