PHILADELPHIA – Christina and Shawn did it, so did the Higgins family and you can’t love anyone else unless you love yourself first.
The Pont Des Arts Bridge stretches over the river Seine all the way in Paris. The Keating family was there on vacation in 2016, and likely some of the last to place a love lock there.
Around the same time, the act of securing a lock to this bridge was banned. It became a safety and environmental concern when the weight of the locks, estimated at 45 tons, began to bring the bridge down.
Back home in Philadelphia, real estate developer Dan Keating had an idea.
What if you built a fence that was intended for the locks?
“When you come around the corner, the first thing you’re going to see is the Philadelphia Hope Fence,” said Director of Sales and Marketing at the Hilton Philadelphia Penn’s Landing Deborah Smith.
The fence is 250 feet long and made of stainless steel. The Philadelphia Hope Fence is a living piece of public art.
You’ll find it in Penn’s Landing, behind the Hilton, right next to the Delaware River in the Spruce Street Harbor Park.
“It’s not going anywhere. It’s going to be here indefinitely and it’s been engineered to hold thousands of locks,” Smith said.
You can bring your own or buy one inside the hotel gift shop. The green ones raise money for the American Association for Cancer Research.
Dan is a cancer survivor. His trip to Europe with his wife Sara and their family was in celebration of that life milestone.
“It can be anything so the fence is meant to commemorate whatever memory you want to memorialize. So it’s not just a love lock fence, that’s why it’s called a hope fence because we want to develop hope for the community and you want everybody to be able to come down and put whatever message they want on this fence,” Smith said.
There’s only one rule. After you put your lock on, leave the key in a box next to the fence instead of tossing them into the river. When the bin is full, the keys are going to be re-purposed as art.
You can come back and see your lock anytime, if you remember where you put it.