Sometime in 1990, a tradition was started by couples in Europe of locking engraved padlocks to a piece of public infra structure like a bridge or a fence and then throw the key in the water.
The lock represented the couple’s love for as long as the public site remains (or until the city council sends out is men out to cut the locks off). This ritual is similar to carving initials into a tree, but since there aren’t enough trees, a historic suspension bridge will do.
After Rome to Ukraine, to Paris, the tradition of placing padlocks on bridges finally appeared in New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.
Since these locks are damaging to the bridge they are regularly removed. A group of lock pickers has been quite active lately removing them first and preserving them rather than have them discarded.
The Transportation Deptartment, which monitors New York City’s bridges, claims complete lock down on the romantic “love lock” ritual. They claimed to have removed over 5,600 locks removed July 2015. But this is not discouraging the smitten tourists from expressing their love. Transport Dept claims that the number of locks on the bridge has increased in recent weeks, like the cost of removal.