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While officials in Paris and New York find the romantic tradition troublesome, a Chicago suburb has found a way to embrace it.
For many romantic couples, no trip to Paris is complete without taking part in the tradition of the cadenas l’amour—or in English, the “love lock.” Couples take a lock, write their name on it, attach it to the Pont des Artes or other bridges over the River Seine and toss the key into the water.
But there’s no love for the love locks among Parisian municipal leaders at the Hôtel de Ville.
As our Atlantic Media colleagues at Quartz recently pointed out, city officials are starting to remove nearly 1 million love locks that weigh 45 tons:
The reason primarily cited by the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is safety—last year, a part of the railing at the Pont des Arts collapsed under the weight of the locks. The damage done to this bridge—which has been around since Napoleon and rebuilt in the early 1980s—and others in Paris had prompted locals to set up campaigns like No Love Locks. Hidalgo has compared the locks to a “plague.”
New York City transportation officials have taken action to remove love locks from the Brooklyn Bridge, carting off 450 locks weighing 75 pounds to the landfill earlier this spring.
But is there a way to accommodate the love lock tradition? An installation in the village of Oak Park, Illinois, just outside Chicago, offers an idea that other localities could replicate or adapt.
Last year, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park launched a project as part of author’s 115th birthday celebration that encouraged couples to attach love locks to an 87-foot section of fencing the village had installed along an underpass adjacent to the Oak Park “L” station along the Chicago Transit Authority’s Green Line.
Granted, a railway underpass doesn’t necessarily provide the same kind of romantic ambiance as a Parisian bridge does, but the love lock tradition has nevertheless caught on in Oak Park.
The Hemingway Foundation’s project was originally supposed to wrap up last September, but it’s continued into 2015.
So we have an unobtrusive installation dressing up an otherwise boring underpass that involved village government cooperation, that didn't get bogged down by bureaucracy, and no one's worrying about a deadline.
Isn't that romantic?
Click here to see a photo of the Oak Park love lock installation location.
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