The end of an era: Paris city officials remove love locks from Pont des Arts bridge
It’s no secret that people go to Paris for love. That truth got even more extreme in 2008, when tourists began latching padlocks with love messages onto the Pont des Arts — a famous bridge in Paris and one of its most historical landmarks — as a symbol of their undying unity. But that tradition is soon to be a thing of the past: Today, the city of Paris is officially removing the padlocks from the bridge, CNN reported.
This decision is the result of a city vs. tourists controversy that’s been growing for the past couple years. While tourists love to display their affection on the Parisian landmark, locals and city officials believe the tradition is doing more harm than good.
At the heart of the matter is safety: At its peak, the bridge was filled with about 700,000 locks — the equivalent of about 20 elephants, according to CNN — which weighed it down so much that it was in danger of collapsing. The fencing around the locks also began crumbling, and city officials feared for pedestrians’ safety.
The tradition also had a cultural impact, and not necessarily a good one. Because so many tourists were flocking to the bridge to leave their love locks, many pickpockets, graffiti artists, and cheap vendors began showing up, which quickly turned locals away from the previously well-renowned famous spot.
The bridge will be closed for a week as city officials take down all of the locks. After that, there will be an “artistic intervention” until spring, in which officials install permanent, protective glass panels on the bridge to keep people from breaking the rules.
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This is not the first time that city officials and locals have taken action, either. Back in August, officials attempted to encourage locals and visitors alike to take selfies on the bridge rather than declare their love. And around Valentine’s Day, they put wooden panels around the locks to prevent people from adding more.
What’s more, a local group called “No Love Locks” has been campaigning to keep the bridge’s historic status by getting rid of the locks that, in their eyes, promote vandalism of Paris landmarks. And locals are tweeting that they are more than happy to get rid of the tourist trap on their beloved bridge.
Still, those actions were all just the city’s attempts to fix the problem, the Facebook equivalent of changing their relationship status with love locks to “it’s complicated.” But now, their relationship is officially over. Let’s hope that the people who declared their love on the bridge are still going strong.
This article originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.