Never pass up the opportunity to explore your hometown like a tourist. You are sure to discover something new. Today I acted like a tourist with the assistance of the New York City Parks Department.
I live in Brooklyn, New York and have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge many, many times. The experience is a form of entertainment and exercise. Today I took the walk with an Urban Park Ranger; as part of a walking tour called – Spanning Time: Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge Walk
We met at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. The Urban Park Ranger guided our small group of explorers through downtown Brooklyn. As we made our way towards the Brooklyn Bridge she pointed out the architectural details of Borough Hall, the Court House and other structures. She also provided historical facts about Brooklyn’s past.
The highlight for me was crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge. Usually when I’m crossing the bridge, I am gazing out at the famous view of the Manhattan skyline or my head is down as I power walk my way across the span. This time across, the Ranger directed my eyes towards a new and unusual sight. All along the pedestrian path were hundreds of small padlocks attached to the fence. I learned these padlocks are called “padlocks of love”.
The story is – couples attach the locks to the bridge and then throw the keys over the side into the East River. The act symbolizes their everlasting love. While my fellow “tourists” “ooh’d” and “aaahhh’d” over the romantic and sweet custom; in my head I kept hearing Gwen Guthrie singing Padlock and Billie Holiday’s I’m Gonna Lock my Heart. I’m a gifted cynic and the bow on my gift was when the Ranger went on to say that the locks were periodically clipped and removed by the maintenance crew. Isn’t it just the perfect metaphor for “love” relationships?