Been watching “Bart + Mimi” for a while on morning walks, waiting to see if their public proclamation of love in Portuguese would multiply as love locks on bridges have around the world.
Multiplication is not desirable. A solitary lock is much more romantic, and cities where historic bridges are targeted struggle to cope with the weight of the demonstrations of love.
At first, I thought writing this blog would take much research into these cases, but fortunately “Mr. and Mrs. Adventure” spared me a lot of googling. They recently posted a blog on padlocked proclamations, including such sites as Via dell’ Amore in the Cinque Terre and the narrow 1828 Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris.
A few years ago according to The Independent, Parisian officials took action, only to be quickly reconquered by determined lovers:
A year after their mysterious disappearance, the “love-locks” of Paris are back on the city’s bridges, more plentiful and vibrant than ever despite lingering suspicions that unromantic officials from City Hall may again swoop with their wire cutters and remove the tokens of couples’ love….
In May 2010, Paris Town Hall expressed concern over the growing number of love-locks, saying: “they raise problems for the preservation of our architectural heritage”. It’s not only the Town Hall that expressed doubts; from time to time a dejected ex-lover has been seen desperately hacking at a padlock with a pair of pliers.
Shortly after this announcement, the bridge was found all but bare following a nocturnal clean-up.
Since the disappearance, lovers have shown their indignation by building-up collections once more….
The narrow pedestrian bridge in the King William Historic District on the south side of downtown Bart and Mimi selected to share their beijoes certainly looks the part. Some call the Johnson Street Bridge the O. Henry Bridge. Built in 1983, it replicates an earlier one removed from this spot during inartistic flood-control work completed in the 1960s. The 1880 bridge had been moved to Johnson Street from its original location on Commerce Street, where it served as an inspirational setting for writer Sidney Porter, or O. Henry.
While the moniker O. Henry might sound romantic, his morbid short story of suicidal consumptives set on the former Commerce Street Bridge was not. The following is from his Fog in Santone:
The drug clerk looks sharply at the white face half concealed by the high-turned overcoat collar.
“I would rather not supply you,” he said doubtfully. “I sold you a dozen morphine tablets less than an hour ago.”
The customer smiles wanly. “The fault is in your crooked streets. I didn’t intend to call upon you twice, but I guess I got tangled up. Excuse me.”
The purchaser of the morphia wanders into the fog, and at length, finds himself upon a little iron bridge, one of the score or more in the heart of the city, under which the small tortuous river flows.
But Bart and Mimi’s lock has triumphed over the inherited gloom, assuming its role as one of San Antonio’s quills:
If peculiarities were quills, San Antonio de Bexar would be a rare porcupine. Over all the round of aspects in which a thoughtful mind may view a city, it bristles with striking idiosyncrasies and bizarre contrasts.
Retrospects and Prospects by William Sydney Porter (O. Henry)
Hopefully, their en amo voce will remain a single quill and not inspire a wave of others to turn the little footbridge into an obese bristling porcupine.