Ingenious tourists have come up with a new twist on the Brooklyn Bridge “locks of love” phenomena: “garbage of love.”
The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) periodically removes thousands of padlocks inscribed with heartfelt declarations from the Brooklyn Bridge walkway. So visitors have increasingly taken to expressing their love – or something – by tying bits of garbage to the railings.
On a recent trip to the walkway, the path was festooned with airline boarding passes, earbuds, hair scrunchies, ribbons with names written on them, stickers listing ingredients, shoe laces, bits of plastic, grocery store shopping bags, luggage tags with overseas names and phone numbers, meeting name tags, and bits of cloth.
“I want to make a memory,” said one visitor from Italy as she tied her hair band to the walkway. Others wrote their names on paper bags left over from lunch and twisted them onto the railing, then posed for photos.
The Wall Street Journal tracked down the reason behind the mysteriously high number of ear buds tangled along the walkway. The tour bus company City Sightseeing gives out free headphones which, they report, tourists tie to the bridge after their rides.
Some locals don’t cotton to the trash trend. “Leave your tourist money at home if it also means showing up and defiling the Brooklyn Bridge,” rants the Brokelyn blog.
The more traditional locks of love haven’t disappeared altogether. Peeking out from behind the scraps and plastic bags were just a few dozen locks. One was a green padlock covered with the words, “I love you I love you I love you lotz.”
Marvin Raymundo from the Philippines posted a photo of his lock on Instagram with the comment, “You’re going to be old and rusty the next time I’ll see you. Hold on tight.”
DOT spokesperson Nicole Garcia told the Brooklyn Eagle in June that the city would continue its campaign against the padlocks.
“The number of locks on the Brooklyn Bridge significantly increases expenses and diverts crews that would otherwise be assigned to other maintenance operations,” she said. “The locks also potentially pose a safety risk for workers or motorists on the lower deck and periodic maintenance efforts also occasionally require the temporary closure of traffic lanes.”
She was not available at press time to comment on the trash of love, however.