GB No. 3(22)/96


The opinion of the Polish Ecological Club (PKE), District Małopolska, concerning the location of the fast food bar of the McDonald's concern in Kraków, at the Main Market 30. The opinion has been presented in relation to "Information of the Voivodship Monument Preservation Department" planned to be presented at the meeting of the Town Council of Kraków, 28. Aug. 1996.

  1. PKE Malopolska believes that the Main market, as well as the whole medieval part of Kraków, one of the most prominent urban systems in Europe, must preserve forever its historical character to which the specific range of services offered in the part of the town contributes.
  2. We protest against the location in the old part of Kraków as it means an attempt of a foreign culture to dominate ours, which would result in standardisation and harm to the individual character. In one of the Warsaw papers (Słowo, 10. Apr. 1005) we read the question: "Is it possible that before our eyes uniform crowds in sports shoes and baseball hats will parade with uniform hamburgers in their hands, before imitations of monuments, not knowing why they are there?"
  3. Location of an object representing a powerful concern promoting a specific type of consumption within the borders of the old Kraków would mean a breach in protection of its character. It would result in the flood of similar investments and consequently bring negative impacts for the cultural aura of this part of our town.
    Kazimierz Kania, well known Kraków journalist, wrote a year ago: "Will my, our Kraków, soon cease to be Kraków? Who wants the American life style here? Who wants to feed on American junk? Who wants Disneyland here? Who tries to destroy Polish colouring and tradition, Polish custom and style? Kraków, wake up and shake off the foreign influences that belittle your Piast and Jagiellonian regality".
  4. We are not against foreign partnerships or involvement of the foreign capital, but not at the expense of losing our individuality and cultural identity. Dollars alone will not attract tourists to Kraków. Kraków will be attractive not because it may offer McDonald's, like any other parts of the world, but because of its special care for monuments, of preserved beauty and culture of the old days.
  5. The project adapting the rooms in the basement and on the first floor of the complex including four 12th c. houses of unique value for a restaurant - the fast food McDonald's bar, not only raises doubts but a strong protest from the Board of PKE Malopolska! PKE understands the notion of environment as an integral unity of natural, cultural and landscape values, which all need preservation and protection.
  6. Proceeding unification of the information space, also of historic city centres (the Kraków's Old Town included in the UNESCO list of world monuments among them) results not only in degradation of cultural space but also of social culture, style and standard of citizens' lives. This situation is a consequence of outside pressures (most frequently of large western corporations) and of attempts to introduce the quasi-modern lifestyle in the form of services addressed to the mass consumer of relatively low demands (plastic containers, cups, trays and cutlery deposited after use in plastic garbage bins that stand in the close neighbourhood of the consumer).
    Ms Małgorzata Kozłowska-Wojciechowska, Vice-Director for Prevention at the Institute of Food and Nutrition in Warsaw, wrote in ¦wiat kobiety, no 22/1993: "Fast food, i.e. hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot-dogs, etc. are not nutritious meals. They are rich in calories and usually contain fat meat, pastry and fat, all subjected to technical processing. In the organism they release harmful substances."
  7. Such a low and primitive food service is intolerable in the Kraków's main Market, a place endowed with the "genius loci". Here many historic events took place, on the national as well as international scale (e.g. the Prussian Homage paid to the Polish king or the oath taken by Tadeusz Kosciuszko).
  8. The awareness of the cultural identity also has an economic aspect. The old district of Kraków is a place of a great market value, which may not be obvious to an average citizen. Therefore the social knowledge that the sale of the "local product" is dependent also on its uniqueness and specific character must be spread. Societies of highly developed countries understand the fact very well: such "products" remain in national hands solely, as only then they remain valuable for tourists.
  9. We have to remind again that our concern for the cultural identity of Polish historic towns, and Kraków especially, has been expressed in the open letter of PKE addressed to the Polish authorities concerning the location of the Mc Donald's restaurant in the Kraków's Main Market. Many famous persons: scientists, artists and others, signed the letter (among them Wislawa Szymborska whose support, especially now when she was granted the Nobel Prize, has a special meaning - ed.).
    The letter caused great repercussions in the press worldwide who backed the appeal. The opinion of many prominent personages of Kraków should not only be merely respected. It should oblige the city authorities to abandon the idea of localising the McDonald's restaurant in the Main Market.
  10. Having in mind all the above arguments we repeat our appeal: let us not allow the degradation of the old historic centre of Kraków resulting from introducing there the McDonald's fast food bar and to protect the historic values of the town as well as the European town of culture.

Dr Ewa Cichy-Pazderowa
President of the PKE Małopolska

Adam Markowski
Vice-President of the PKE Małopolska

reprinted from Biuletyn Informacyjny ZG PKE Oct. '96
transl. by M. Maciejewska


GB No. 3(22)/96 | Contents