Reject the McDonald's Dream


I think it is wrong to assume that "the dream of thousands of undergraduates" is to have a McDonald's in the Square (Sept. 17). The implementation of a McDonald's in the Square would represent much of what I think is wrong with American commercial development today.

Chains seem to have taken over everywhere, wiping out the small mom and pop stores that actually gave a place character. In towns where there are no community groups to protect the nature of place, developers have gone wild building long, developed strips of fast food chains and car dealerships. Real estate values can show that people are not attracted by this kind of rampant commercialization.

Local landlord Sandy Cahaly can only see profit in the installation of a new McDonald's, claiming that Harvard Square cannot be "immune" to what is going on in the rest of the country. He is right that we can't be immune to what is going on in the rest of the country, which is exactly why the Cambridge community is worried. If the Square follows suit with the rest of the country, it will simply be a block of chain stores like Anytown, U.S.A. Harvard Square is lucky to have a small group of people who actually care what it will look like in the future.

The other thing I found upsetting about your McHarvard article is that it exemplifies the kind of instant gratification that permeates our society today. We are such a consumer society that we can't stand to wait even 30 seconds a hamburger. Hamburgers are wolfed down in the billions by Americans who need food now, and don't bother to stop and think about what they are putting in their bodies. It's not surprising that we have such an obese population.

As educated Harvard students, I hope that you could look beyond an "I want it here and now!" type of attitude. As America becomes more populated, many of us will face these kind of development issues in our communities. There is much at stake, and the choices we make will determine the future landscape of America. --Isabel F. Smith '99