Lock Love  

Love Lock Bridge, Zürich

 The picture image in which we invite you to spot the difference was taken at Mühlesteg Bridge in Zürich – certainly not the only bridge in the world where lovers demonstrate their constancy by locking a padlock to the structure, but possibly one of the first.

The idea, now an established custom, seems to have originated in an Italian movie, ‘Ho Voglia di Ti’ (I Want You). A lover presents the beloved with a padlock which they attach to a suitable bridge, and then throw the key into the water to symbolise that their union will never be undone. I doesn’t matter whether you are in New York, Paris or South Korea, there will be a bridge which lovers traditionally decorate with locks. Whether the municipal authorities responsible for the upkeep of the bridge are as delighted as the couples, is a different question. In some cities the council has removed the rusting metal from their structure, and then tried to stop people putting on new locks, only to find that love is not so easily denied. In fact a firm in Brooklyn, USA, recognising an opportunity when it sees one, makes and sell hundreds of unique, purpose-made Love Locks, and in fact will help you design your own and then make it for you. So enterprising is the firm, that they have come up with a wider catalogue than just romantic love: you can buy locks to express your love of your baby, your family, your new home, and even your pets. They suggest many other uses for your loving lock than just decorating old bridges: on your bike or locker at school or at work, as a symbolic gift to the guests at your wedding, or as an alternative to a card on St Valentine’s Day.

But if you want to know about the bridge in the picture: it crosses the River Limmat by Central Square in the Old Town of the Swiss city of Zürich, not far from the university; it is a steel truss bridge, designed for pedestrians only, and opened in 1981. How long it is since the locks started to appear I can’t say, but one thing’s for sure, there are thousands of them now.