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Crossing the tame Rhine River in the city of Cologne (Köln), Germany is the Hohenzollernbrücke (Hohenzollern Bridge). Six or seven years ago, this bridge, which accommodates both train and pedestrian traffic, was both several tons lighter in weight and of a moderately different appearance altogether.
Beginning around 2008, the global novelty of the love lock caught on in Cologne. This work of art and show of neverending devotion (whose pedigree is debated) is sustained by tens of thousands of individual couples; a couple would buy a lock, engrave their name or initials on it, affix it to the bridge on a wire or beam or wherever else it can find purchase, and throw the key into the Rhine. To date, more than 40,000 couples have attached their own love locks onto the Hohenzollernbrücke, adding more than two tons to the bridge’s weight.