IN A FLASH: Kent's 'Locks of Love'

Love is physically "on lock" in a section of fencing on the Main Street Bridge in downtown Kent.  Hundreds of padlocks, fastened to the fence, bear testament to the love of hundreds of couples as a symbol of their unbreakable, enduring love.

In this tradition, a couple crosses the bridge together, shares a kiss or embrace, fastens the lock to the bridge and then throws the key in the river below. 

Detail of a lock on Kent's Main Street Bridge

The tradition originally started sometime before the First World War in Serbia. A soldier and his love shared romantic meetings on a bridge in town. While the soldier was away at war, he met someone else and fell in love. His love at home died of a broken heart. After that, women in the town wrote their names and their loves' names on locks and fastened them to the bridge, in the superstitious hope that it would "bind" their loves to their home.

The practice was nearly forgotten until an author named Federico Moccia wrote about it in his book " I Want You," in 2011. The book was made into a film in 2012. After that, bridges around the world quickly began accumulating locks. So many locks, in some cases, that the bridges collapsed, and now several cities in Europe have banned the practice, enforcing it with stiff fines.

Photo of Kent's Main Street Bridge by Jen Mapes from Main Street Kent

Photo by Jen Mapes, Kent State associate professor, Department of Geography, provided by Main Street Kent.

People began fastening locks to the Main Street Bridge in Kent shortly after the bridge underwent major renovations in 2014. The locks have also appeared on a bridge on the section of the Lefton Esplanade between campus and Dix Stadium.

Hundreds of locks fastened to Kent's Main Street Bridge

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POSTED: Tuesday, October 10, 2023 08:38 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2023 04:58 PM
Phil B. Soencksen