Decorating Bridges in City Made of Them
By Teresa K. Flatley
You are probably all aware of the recent project to "Knit the Bridge" in Pittsburgh, having read just a few (!) articles here in Boom This! The project was a huge success thanks to the work of close to 2,000 people.
Bridges are always a hot topic in Pittsburgh, which has the most bridges of any city in the world (446). The closing of even one bridge is enough to cause traffic congestion throughout the metropolitan area.
On Saturday, as part of a photo safari class I am taking, we walked across the Schenley Park Bridge in Pittsburgh's Oakland section to get to the Carnegie Mellon University campus. We were attempting to take "panned" photos on the bridge which allow you to keep the main subject in focus, such as a car or moving bicycle, while blurring the background.
Well, that didn't turn out so well, so we moved on, but in the meantime I noticed a bunch of locks attached to panels on the other side of the bridge. I neglected to take a photo of the locks then, but a friend who lives in the area captured some shots for me (see below).
Locks on Schenley Park Bridge, Pittsburgh
Close-up of Locks on Schenley Park Bridge
These love locks (similar to ones we used on our high school lockers) are a symbol of a couple's love and this practice was started in Paris, I believe, or maybe Prague. So many locks have been placed on bridges in Europe that the authorities in some cities, including Rome, have begun to remove them because they are unsightly or are possibly damaging the bridge itself, much to the distress of those who love what they represent.
Love Locks, Cologne, Germany
The Pittsburgh love locks have not overtaken the bridge here so they should be safely locked on for a while. I did ask Amanda Gross, lead artist for the Knit the Bridge Project, if they had problems with similar locks when covering the pedestrian panels on the Andy Warhol Bridge this summer. I can remember seeing a few locks when we visited the bridge. Amanda said:
There were a couple of locks on the bridge, but not very many - maybe two or three. We didn't have any trouble due to the way the bridge panels along the pedestrian walkway were constructed. There's a bit of a lip around the border of each panel area so the handmade blanket panels stretched around the frame leaving a couple of inches of space where the locks had been attached.
While not getting a photo of the locks on Saturday, I did take several photos of embroidered symbols on the Schenley Bridge (see below). Not sure what these represent, but one suggestion is that they might have been a precursor to the concept of knitting the entire bridge. Photos below show the rather dainty embroidery work on the bridge panels, again representing something someone wanted to say and using a bridge in the city to say it.
Embroidery on Schenley Park Bridge, Pittsburgh
More Embroidery on Pittsburgh Bridge