The Hague Bridge
The way it used to look.
Let's work at it.
An Art Critic Discusses Love Locks
Jonathan Jones, art critic for the Guardian, wrote that attaching love locks to bridges is “as stupid as climbing a mountain and leaving a crisp packet at the top, or seeking out the most unspoilt beach and stubbing out cigarettes in the sand. Seriously. This is not a romantic thing to do. It is a wanton and arrogant act of destruction. It is littering. It is an attack on the very beauty that people supposedly travel to Paris or Rome to see.”
Speaking of "art," how about the perfect spot for the love locks?
Life Imitates "Art"
Excerpt: "Between the predictable pages of motorcycle races and tagging overpasses, Moccia’s young lovers manage to accomplish one original act: affixing a padlock to the Ponte Milvio. Real-life Roman teens imitated this fictional declaration of devotion, and the practice soon spread to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the Pont des Arts in Paris, and beyond. Garlands of lucchetti now sprawl like an invasive metallic moss across prominent bridges throughout Europe..."
— Alex Mann (March 14, 2014, AltDaily)
In other words, tagging and trashing bridges has become all the rage. It's funny, too, that in the movie Signor Moccia made after his book, that "one original act" is no longer such. This is probably because by the time the movie was made, Italian teens had already strewn the old Ponte Milvio with their locks, and the movie crew, presumably out of respect for the monster Signor Moccia's book created, chose not to desecrate those vandalistic locks by removing them before shooting the seminal locking scene of the book. However, some Norfolk aesthetes are not so squeamish about lock removal.
The Word from New York
Funny, local bridge lovers have been trying to point this out forever, but it takes a cover of The New Yorker to wake up some Norfolkians:
“On a recent walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, I first saw the people putting on locks and taking photos of themselves. And further down I saw the sign. That’s what made me realize that I have aged. In my youth, I would have probably identified with the romantic lovers, but now that I’m a dad cleaning up after two kids, I can readily relate to the sanitation worker with the bolt cutter.”
— Adrian Tomine (about his cover art for the January 2, 2017 issue of The New Yorker)
The difference between Norfolk and NYC: Norfolk doesn't allow its workers to do proper bridge maintenance.
Reasons to Remove the Locks
1) FAIRNESS — The City of Norfolk does not allow, and certainly does not encourage, the locking of abandoned padlocks (aka “love locks”) to any other bridge or other public structure. Therefore, it is unfair and prejudicial for the City to allow or encourage the locking of such locks to the Hague bridge.
2) LOOKS — The shabby mess of locks on the Hague bridge's rails ruins the traditional appearance of the bridge, which is the iconic entryway to the Ghent neighborhood. The original bridge, which the present bridge was patterned after, was built in 1891 to provide access from downtown Norfolk to the new suburb of Ghent. Parts of the old bridge are still contained in the structure of the present bridge, built in 1974. In other words, a steel bridge stood on this spot for over 120 years without abandoned padlocks defacing its rails.
3) BAD PRECEDENT — The locks, with their shabby, discordant appearance, are invitations to other forms of graffiti and vandalism on the bridge and in the adjacent neighborhood. Leaving abandoned padlocks on the bridge flies in the face of the “broken windows theory” of crime prevention, which advocates prompt attention to such things graffiti and vandalism to prevent more of the same.
4) LEGALITY — The locks violate sections of the City Code of Ordinances, which provide clear-cut justifications for removing such abandoned padlocks from a public space:
These abandoned padlocks easily fit the definition of a nuisance (Sec. 27-2): a "nuisance" is defined as any condition, substance, material or thing which may be annoying, obnoxious, offensive, irritating or detrimental or potentially hazardous or detrimental to the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the public or the environment, including, but not limited to, refuse, trash, rubbish, debris, junk, garbage, containers, wire, glass, wood, ashes, animal matter, vegetable matter, human and animal wastes, and odors.
“Love locks,” typically inscribed with graffiti, meet the inclusive definition of graffiti found in the Code (Sec. 27-43): "graffiti" includes but shall not be limited to any non-permitted inscription, word, figure, or design that is marked, etched, scratched, drawn, painted, pasted or otherwise affixed to, or on, any sidewalk, wall, building, fence, pole, sign, utility cabinet, or any other structure or surface, regardless of the nature of the material of that structural component.
Many other cities have enforced their ordinances regarding vandalism and public nuisances by removing love locks from their bridges. So why not the City of Norfolk?
5) CITIZEN DISCONTENT — Many citizens have requested that the City of Norfolk remove the locks “as soon as possible.” A petition requesting this and signed by 230 citizens (most residents of the Hague neighborhood adjacent to the bridge) was presented to the City Council on July 19, 2016.
6) SAFETY — The locks are potential hazards to anyone who could fall against or sideswipe the bridge rails, particularly kids on bikes, skateboards, and roller skates — and people using the bridge when it is covered with snow and ice, just as it is now. It is irrational that the rails of a pedestrian bridge be allowed to bristle with chunks of sharp, rusting metal protruding into the public right of way.
7) MAINTENANCE — The locks cause damage to the bridge by chafing its paint and corroding its metal, and they impede maintenance to the bridge's rails.
Reasons to Keep the Locks
Actually, there only seems to be one reason, and it's usually stated something like this:
"We like the locks, and if you don't, you must hate love. Oh, and why don't you worry about more important things?"
Here's an idea:
Artists Doing Something about Love Locks
In Prague (captial of the Czech Republic) there's a nice old brige called the Charles Bridge. Naturally, since this bridge is so nice and old, love locksters assault it constantly. So a group of Prague artists regularly goes out and cuts the locks off.
So, where are Norfolk's artists?