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Brooklyn Bridge love locks under fire from DOT

City to lovebirds: Lock it off!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

1/7
ONLY IN NEW YORK: Henrik Salgfors and Mikaela Ahlquist of Sweden said that lock-leaving is something special to our fair city.
2/7
BROOKLYN IS FOR LOVERS: Pascal Werthmann and Paula Thielemann stopped by the bridge to leave a so-called “love lock” while on vacation from Germany.
3/7
LEAVE-SAKE: Simone Coelho and Joao Jutahy Campos left a reminder of their visit from Brazil to rust on the borough’s iconic span.
4/7
GRATING: The love symbols sometimes force the transportation department to replace sections of the Brooklyn Bridge walkway fence, officials said.
5/7
THE HANGOVER: Locks dangle from the street lamps over the Brooklyn Bridge roadway, dangerously, transit honchos say.
6/7
HEART-SHAPED LOCKS: The lock trend shows no sign of stopping despite stern warnings from city officials.
7/7
HOLD FAST: Locks line a section of wire over the Brooklyn Bridge roadway.

Bridges and locks are a losing combination.

That is the message of the Department of Transportation which, several years after the globally popular tradition of couples affixing so-called “love locks” to picturesque spans first hit the Brooklyn Bridge, says tourists need to knock it off because the proliferation of padlocks has gotten dangerous.

“The NYC Department of Transportation currently spends millions of dollars each year removing graffiti in order to protect the bridge from corrosion,” the agency wrote on the official Brooklyn Bridge Facebook page. “A similar effort is required by the department to address the increasing occurrences of visitors installing ‘love locks’ on the bridge, many times directly over the roadway creating a hazard for motorists below.”

The locks dangle from street lamps over the road and a latticed section of fence lining the pedestrian walkway is lousy with them. Crews occasionally clip the offending fasteners, but the transportation commissioner says that the practice is getting more popular by the day.

“There has been a real increase, and we’re very, very concerned about them,” roads honcho Polly Trottenberg told ABC 7’s Eyewitness News.

In Paris, where some argue the custom originated, city officials have resorted to removing sections of footbridges because the weight of the metal devices threatens to pull down whole pieces of the structures. The problem is so pernicious that the City of Love’s tourism website pleads for visitors to find other ways to express their everlasting bond.

“It is wonderful to see such a vast amount of devoted couples; however the ritual is posing several problems due to the weight of the thousands of small steel padlocks,” the site says. “Certain sections of the railings are becoming weakened under the weight and sections of the grates require regular replacement.”

Here in New York, roads officials say concern over falling locks forces them to temporarily close lanes of traffic while teams clip the clasps.

Former Borough President Marty Markowitz had not heard of the phenomenon before a reporter’s call and first thought the idea was romantic. But after reading up, he walked back his position.

“Even if it’s a beautiful little thing, there’s always a downside,” said Markowitz, who is now the city’s tourism czar for the outer boroughs. “Those locks could fall and cause a lot of damage.”

But for Swedish tourists Henrik Salgfors and Mikaela Ahlquist, leaving a metal memento was something they could not skip on their Brooklyn trip.

“You have to do this when you come to New York,” Ahlquist said. “They don’t have this in Sweden!”

Markowitz has an alternative for lovebirds looking to leave their mark.

“I never want the Brooklyn Bridge to not be for lovers,” he said. “So, why not take a selfie with you and your lover smooching with the bridge tower in the background?”

— with Hannah Frishberg

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Or from Yellow Hook says:
3 minutes with an angle grinder and the problem is solved.
May 27, 2014, 10:42 pm
ty from pps says:
Or -- Thing about your comment... how exactly is this "solving the problem"? Hmm?
May 28, 2014, 7:55 am
ty from pps says:
*think
May 28, 2014, 7:55 am
Dave from Brooklyn Heights says:
The locks are bad, but no mention of the graffiti, which has run rampant on the bridge since they started repair work several years ago? It seems the DOT has just let the bridge go entirely and presumably will only repaint it if and when they ever finish the rehab. Meanwhile, the bridge looks the worst it's looked in 20 years.

And a lot of the graffiti seems to be left by tourists.
May 28, 2014, 8:42 am
Jimutz from Cobble Hill says:
While the DOT is getting rid of the locks and the graffiti, perhaps they can also rid the bridge of all the vendors encroaching on the footpath selling their counterfeit merchandise and over-priced snacks.
May 28, 2014, 2:34 pm
Ontrapanyour from Brooklyn says:
I welcome the locks. Let the tourists and loveybirds keep putting them up. Creates jobs. Heck, I'm thinking about opening a lock-selling kiosk right under one of the arches. Call it "Lov'in Locksmith" or "Lovesmith" or something like that. After alls, the more locks means the more lov'in, amiright? And love's a real swell thing, isn't it? This ain't no Guilliani town no more. Let's spread the love and lock it up.
May 28, 2014, 9:40 pm
Captain Obvious says:
Angle Grinder? Bolt Cutters?

No Locks - no incentive, no problem.

BUT! A kiosk that sells you the locks, (and has a master key!!) Sells them again and again, like the guy who rents you 'doves' for your wedding, that are homing pigeons. Brilliant!
May 29, 2014, 7:27 am
Moishe Lipshiz from 32nd Street and 11th Avenue says:
Oy vey! Vhy is there such a problem with the lox all ov a sudden? Just vhen you find a place with some lox you can love, they vant and take it avay.
May 29, 2014, 9:28 pm
Joao from Brooklyn says:
First I want to demonstrate that we left the lock on the Brooklyn Bridge the example of already existing there . Honestly , there was no warning or person who orient to prohibit placing padlocks on the bridge . If it were not we , because we are not stupid and disrespectful tourists !
Unfortunately , the writer of this article came to talk to us , my girlfriend and I , asking about our history and why we are putting the padlock there, even congratulating us for our anniversary ...
But this person might be guiding us and not criticizing us how did this article . We 're tourists , we do not know the city , and if there is no warning or alert the person , the amount of existing padlocks on Ponte led us to believe that this is a custom of visitors .
We are sorry this happened . However , we regret even more the lack of character of this writer that could very well be warning us before placing the lock and not criticizing us. If not approved , why let us put the lock? Regrettable your attitude !
June 2, 2014, 12:11 pm

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