City of love, or locks? What Lexington has in common with Paris

From Wire ReportsApril 20, 2014 

Locks attached to the fence on the Lexington side of the Lake Murray dam.

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com Buy Photo

— Without love, what is Paris? And yet what is a trip to Paris without unfettered vistas of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre or Notre Dame from bridges over the River Seine?

Concerns about scenery are clashing with sentimentality in this reputed City of Love over a profusion of padlocks hitched by lovers on bridges as symbols of everlasting “amour” – locks that some decry as an eyesore.

Part of a global phenomenon, including in South Carolina on the Lake Murray dam, the craze has grown in Paris recently and now two American women who call Paris home have had enough. They’ve launched a petition to try to get the city’s mostly laissez-faire officials to do something. City leaders say they’re exploring alternatives.

In urban myth, it goes like this: Latch a padlock to a bridge railing and chuck the key into the water as you make a wish. Some say the tradition has its roots in 19th-century Hungary. Others cite a recent Italian novel as the inspiration.

Campaigners Lisa Taylor Huff and Lisa Anselmo are denouncing what they call a padlock plague, warning of alleged safety risks and arguing the craze is now a cliche. Their petition says “the heart of Paris has been made ugly” by the locks and the Seine has been polluted by thousands of keys.

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