GB No. 3(22)/96


For some years now there has been a fierce struggle not to allow McDonald's in the Main Market in Cracow.

Since the beginning, the Board of Malopolska District of Polish Ecological Club (PKE - Polski Klub Ekologiczny) has been consistently against that project. The Board has also definitely and unambiguously supported actions of the Voivodship Conservator. PKE is the last one to survive on the battlefield, because other institutions, which were initially opposed to the location, suddenly changed their opinions.

In 1994 PKE prepared an open letter in defense of the historical centres of Cracow and other Polish towns against destruction and commercialization from Western mass pseudo-culture. The letter, signed by a group of eminent, well-known and Cracow-respected representatives of science, culture and art, was sent to the authorities of Cracow , the Polish Republic and to the press.
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Protest of Green Federation at McDonald's restaurant in Floriańska Street

After a year, Mrs. Urszula Ormian in the weekly Dzi¶ i Jutro from August 9, 1995 asked some signatories of the letter about their present attitude in this matter. I consider it interesting, useful and necessary to quote the aptest and bravest opinions. Here they are:

Jan Nowicki - an actor: As a consumer I think that allowing such a pitiful, as far as taste is concerned, restaurant as McDonald's in the Main Market in Cracow is unacceptable. I know that children will take offense at me, but they don't know yet what good taste is... (...) In general, American food is awful, especially in McDonald's. I saw their warehouses when the branch in Katowice was opened. Tons of buns from Moscow, sauces from Bulgaria, everything frozen. Nobody knows what hamburgers are made of. It's terrible... After all, we have good Polish traditions. Why aren't there any restaurants with our traditional food, cooked and served in the Polish way? Both Poles and foreigners would eat there with pleasure... When you are visiting another country, it's normal to get to know new things. I never look for Polish food in Budapest. I go to Italian restaurants in Italy and to French restaurants in France.

Adam Bujak - a photographer: I'm surprised that an American beanery has the impudence to intrude on the Main Market in the Old Town of Cracow... It's a horrible vista to see the Main Market, which is the visiting card of Cracow, spoilt with the stink of oil and chips.

Zbylut Grzywacz - a painter: I have never seen McDonald's in any famous place in the world. I didn't see it in St. Mark's Square in Venice or next to the cathedral in Mediolan. I think that the location of McDonald's - in Florianska Street, among Matejko House, the Museum of Pharmacy, the Czartoryscy Museum and the Barbakan - is the result of its impudence. If things continue like this, the next move will be a bar in the Cloth Hall, and then in Kanonicza Street and the Wawel! I'd like to emphasize that McDonald's' intruding on the Main Market is very tactless. It is also cheap Americanization and an offence to our city. It is like hammering a loutish nail into the delicate beauty of the Main Market.

Andrzej Mleczko - a graphic artist: I was one of the signatories of the letter against opening McDonald's restaurant in the Main Market. Meantime, I changed my mind. I think that McDonald's should have its restaurant in the Wawel, with a big neon sign on the Cathedral's tower. Maybe then someone will understand that the Main Market in Cracow is not Disneyland.

Stanisław Łojasiewicz - a professor in the Jagiellonian University: In my and my friends' opinion some historical, cultural and architectural traditions should be respected. It is not true, as some people say, that McDonald's in Florianska Street is not an eyesore. I think that their advertising is too gaudy.

Janusz Bogdanowicz - a professor in Cracow Polytechnic: McDonald's in the very centre of old Cracow is unacceptable. The centre, which is a parlour and site of contemplation, would change its character. A parlour should have its own style. You put a piano, not a jukebox, into a parlour.

Another interesting aspect is that some officials and conservators in Warsaw, who want to finish the Cracow case quickly, did not allow this concern in the Old Town and the Kings' Road in Warsaw.

And what is happening abroad ? For example, Vaclav Havel, the President of the Czech Republic, did not allow this firm in the Old Town in Prague. Jacque Chirac, the present President of France 'taking care of the city's image, turned McDonald's restaurants out of the Elysee Fields, because they did not fit this part of Paris' - as the weekly Wprost from May 21st, 1995 reports.

It is only the authorities in Cracow (the City Council and the City Board) who are not able to pass a bill forbidding McDonald's in the Main Market and the historical centre of Cracow. Are they afraid to be suspected of intolerance and lack of 'European spirit'? Well, our authorities, are the examples above not convincing for you? There has always been a rule that in a town it is the host, not an arrogant and impudent guest, who decides. Let's defend our cities against intrusive invasion of that cheap American beanery!

Adam Markowski
Chairman of Malopolska Branch of PKE

reprinted from Zielone Brygady Oct. '95
transl. by Jacek Iwański

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