City to install Love Locks location on Southbank Riverwalk

City to install Love Locks location on Southbank Riverwalk
The city plans to use the “Stairs to Nowhere” on either side of the Southbank Riverwalk as a place for couples to place locks to show their love.

Love Locks is coming to Jacksonville.

In the future, the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department plans to make a special place along the Southbank Riverwalk for strolling couples to leave padlocks to symbolize their affection, said Jill Enz, a landscape architect with the city Parks and Recreation Department during a meeting of the Downtown Dwellers Sept. 27.

The locks follow a tradition started in Paris, France, where couples put locks on the Pont des Arts bridge to symbolize their affection, followed by throwing the key into the Seine River below. Jacksonville plans to install special panels on the two “staircases to nowhere” which sit on either side of the Main Street Bridge along the Southbank Riverwalk, said Enz. In the past, the staircases led from the Main Street Bridge to Riverbank museums, which have since been torn down so that the Riverwalk could be built, she said.

Screen panels will be added to the top of the staircases for the locks to be added, and the story of Love Locks will be written in script on one of the open walls, she said.

Also in the plan is a sculptural stainless steel tree to be installed in the open area on the Riverwalk near base of the staircases with branches low enough for locks to be hung, making the project Americans with Disabilities (ADA) accessible, she said.

Engraved locks hang on a chain link fence on the pedestrian bridge underneath the Acosta Bridge near Brooklyn.

Engraved locks hang on a chain link fence on the pedestrian bridge underneath the Acosta Bridge near Brooklyn.

The tree will be mounted on a large granite boulder and placed on the Riverwalk. The trunk and branches will be made from punched stainless steel sheets and will be two intersecting planes, with the roots becoming more organic around the boulder. Hooks to hang locks will be mounted to the branches and the locks will become the leaves of the tree, she said.

Enz said she is currently getting bids for the Love Locks project and is looking for other private organizations that might assist as sources of funding. She said it may be six to nine months before the project is completed.

An estimated one million padlocks were removed from the famed Paris bridge in June 2015 because sections of the bridge’s fencing began crumbling under the locks’ weight.

Engraved locks hang on a chain link fence on the pedestrian bridge underneath the Acosta Bridge near Brooklyn.

Engraved locks hang on a chain link fence on the pedestrian bridge underneath the Acosta Bridge near Brooklyn.

At present, many lovers in Jacksonville have placed locks with their names or initials engraved on them on a chain link fence on the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks and under the Acosta Bridge between the CSX and Times-Union buildings. The city cut off the locks two years ago because the fence couldn’t handle the added weight, Enz said, noting after the new attraction is built, signage directing couples to the new Southbank Riverwalk site will be installed at the old site on the pedestrian bridge.

Having a special location for the Love Locks on the Southbank Riverwalk near its hotels will add another attraction to the city, hopefully inspiring honeymooning couples to visit and leave a tangible remembrance of their lasting love, she said, noting that selling the special locks with the couples’ names and wedding dates provides an opportunity for small businesses nearby.

By Marcia Hodgson

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