Something’s Fishy: Fishzilla Flops in Potomac and Queens Waters

Northern Snakehead

Northern Snakehead

During the past few days news outlets have been reporting on the dangers of the northern snakehead, a supposedly invasive species of fish that may now be living in Harlem Meer. It’s possible that the fish could drastically alter the ecosystem of the park’s most popular fishing hole. However, the fish has failed to be quite as significant of an issue as foretold in other North American waters.

America was first alerted about a dangerous, invasive species of fish, “a companion for the Creature from the Black Lagoon” according to the Baltimore Sun, in 2002 when one was discovered in a pond in Crofton, Maryland. Experts and media outlets speculated that the fish would breed at an alarming rate and decimate fish populations as it has razor sharp teeth and feeds on other fish. The fish also possesses a unique ability to survive out of water for quite some while due to bronchial organs which allow it to breath out of water and its ability to secrete mucus thus protecting itself from dry elements. Fearing that the fish would start hopping out of the water and spreading to other sources eventually destroying entire ecosystems of fish, the state of Maryland dumped a pestiside into the pond which killed everything living in the water.

Meanwhile the snakehead was already colonizing the Potomac River. Dumping pesticides in a pond may be questionable but it certainly wouldn’t be acceptable in a river. So instead, local agencies monitored the situation and suprisingly in the past ten years they’ve not witnessed any behavior which seems to indicate reason for alarm. John Odenkirk, a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, told the Washington Post that the snakeheads are “a lazy fish.” Apparently they barely use their razor sharp teeth. They inhale small fish whole that happen to swim by their mouths. According to the Washington Post, there also doesn’t seem to be an adverse effect on other fish populations.

Odenkirk doesn’t think that snakeheads have made any significant impact on the Potomac’s ecosystem, but it may be a few more years before biologists can say with certainty how snakeheads fit into the river’s not-so-natural waters. But so far, snakeheads aren’t gobbling up every living thing in sight — unless it’s small and swims near their lazy heads.

This information seems to be consistent with the information collected by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation who has been studying snakeheads that were discovered in two connected lakes in Queens back in 2005.

Despite being in suitable habitat, the Queens northern snakehead population has not increased as has been observed in other cases. Potential causal factors in this lack of or delay in population increase include water quality and presence of other fish species, although the exact reasons for slow population growth are unknown.

Could it be possible that the snakehead’s reputation has been enhanced by the media? An article published in 2002 by the Washington Post titled, “Freakish Fish Causes Fear in Md” a Maryland biologist was quoted as saying, “It’s the baddest bunny in the bush. It has no known predators in this environment, can grow to 15 pounds, and it can get up and walk. What more do you need?” This was actually a misnomer. The fish cannot walk. In the past few days at least ten major media outlets have released horrific predictions about the gruesome “frankenfish” or “fishzilla” that will destroy Central Park’s Harlem Meer. Yet, there’s not been a single location in the United States that has actually experienced problems resulting from introduction to the snakehead. Is there cause for alarm? Or have we all been perpetuating a whopping fish tale?

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Predatory fish lurks in Harlem Meer


Something’s in that lake… and it’s up to us to find it. It’s the perfect set up for a horror film. Every year in April, recreational fishers can catch and release in Harlem Meer. This year though things have gotten a little more exciting.

A rogue fish called the Northern Snakehead has been introduced to the Meer and the park wants your help removing them from the area. Called Fishzilla by National Geographic, the snakehead is native to parts of Asia and Russia and, according to NBC New York, “eats frogs and crayfish and has the ability to breathe air and live for days out of water in certain conditions.” They reach sexual maturity at around age two and in just two years, a female can release up to 150,000 eggs. This equates to a big problem if we don’t get rid of them quickly. Although the New York City Department of Environmental Conservation plans to survey the lake for the fish, they’ve placed containers around Harlem Meer and are asking anglers who catch the offensive snakehead to contain them and call 311.

So if you’re any good with a rod and reel, grab a fishing license and head up to Central Park. We’d love to see a photo or video if you should happen to catch one.

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No really, Spring is here!


Iris-reticulata grow despite snowfall in Central Park.

The New York Observer spoke for most of us when they published an article a few days back reflecting upon the abundance of snowy, cold and rainy, or merely freezing days we’ve had recently. Where is spring? Prosecutors in Ohio were so upset by it’s absence that they filed a legal brief to sue, Groundhog’s Day darling, Punxsutawney Phil. Yet as, the Observer notes, the Central Park Conservancy has faith that better days are on their way.

An email blast from the Conservancy told us that they are turning on park fountains, planting 57,000 flowers with 850 tons of mulch, readying 1,400 sprinklers, laying down 200 tons of pebble on park paths, packing down 500 tons of clay on the ballfields, and filling up playground sandboxes with 108 tons of sand.

The Observer lightly pokes fun at their optimism but those folks at the Conservancy aren’t schlubs. If they say things are ready to grow, they are ready to grow. And in case any of you are in doubt, they’ve added a few pictures to their Pinterest to prove it. Here are a few of the photos they shared. Hopefully they fill you with warmth.

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Park Locations

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Central Park is an integral part of the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Our guests on the tour and visitors to the website have been asking us specifically about locations for the film so we’ve put together a map of locations used in the film:

Filming Locations in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

You’ll see there are two scenes filmed at The Lake. One takes place on the northwest border of the lake:

lake location

Oscar (Thomas Horn) is on a scavenger hunt that his father (Tom Hanks) has sent him on. At another point in the film we see Horn and Hanks on the southern side of The Lake at a swing set that was brought in just for filming. Behind the swing set we can see The Lake and Bow Bridge.

Hanks and Horn at Bow Bridge

Hanks Swings

In the second image above you can see the orange net in place because of the restoration that is still happening on the southern side of Bow Bridge. Lastly, in another moment of the scavenger hunt we see Oskar down near Wollman Rink scaling one of the park’s prominent natural rock formations.

Horn by Wollman Rink

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Tavern on the Green Heckling Begins

Tavern on the Green render

A rendering of the soon to be renovated Tavern on the Green.

Shortly after Tavern on the Green opened as a gift shop in 2010, I walked in to take a look at the fancy touch screen maps and the twenty dollar t-shirts that proudly proclaimed “Tavern on the Green: Since 1934,” and was greeted to a fairly typical New York scene. A woman who lived on the Upper West Side had wandered in to inquire about dinner reservations for Thanksgiving. The Conservancy staff politely informed her that Tavern on the Green was now a gift shop but she scoffed at the and told them they didn’t know what they were talking about. She dropped a few names, probably Danny Meyers, Donald Trump, and a few others and declared that they’d told her things would be running normally again shortly. She stormed out refusing to acknowledge the building’s transformation and declaring that she would make a reservation over the phone.

Even in its absence, everyone seems to feel a certain sense of ownership of Tavern on the Green and New York has always been a city of people who are firmly convinced that whatever is being done, they could do it better. When the city announced its $10 million dollar renovation of the famous restaurant, Donald Trump proudly proclaimed that it would be a failure and nobody would go there. Recently the restaurant, which is slated to reopen at the end of this year has come under fire for being classist, having financial difficulties, unfairly favored above other groups, and for having a poor eye for design.

The new operator, Emerald Green Group’s (originally owners of a French creperie in Philadelphia) rep Steven Hall told the New York Post, “Their backer is not coming up with as much [cash] as they expected, so they are looking for extra funds.” Now every publication in the city is concerned whether the new restaurant will be able to pay the city its licensing fee in addition to, you know, the rest of the fees associated with running a high profile, union restaurant in New York City:

But the problems could hit home when the Philly boys start paying for food, labor and utilities, which can be tens of millions of dollars annually. – “Tavern no green [Exclusive] Cash shortfall could delay eatery’s reopening.” New York Post

Such speculation is rather unwarranted at this point. Particularly since the new Tavern will have significantly less overhead by design thanks to the lessons the city learned from the failing of Warner Leroy’s famed previous establishment. However, it will remain to be seen whether the restaurant group will gain the needed backing. We find it unlikely however that such a prominent and potentially lucrative location will fail to entice backers.

Numerous other groups have taken jabs at Tavern on the Green in past weeks too. Community Board 7 doesn’t like the color of maroon that was selected for Tavern’s awning. Interesting…. where have I seen a maroon awning before? Oh! Wait, that’s right.

Warner Leroy's Tavern on the Green

Warner Leroy’s Tavern on the Green

Yes! The former iteration of Tavern on the Green had a maroon awning also. Perhaps that’s the reason they don’t like it. Community Board 7 has been fighting to change Tavern on the Green from an upscale institution to a casual jeans and t-shirt establishment. The awning will likely remain maroon as it’s now being touted as the original color used in 1934. However the assault from CM7 doesn’t stop there. They feel the separate entrance for cheaper take out entrances (very similar to the one found at The Boathouse restaurant in the center of the park) will have a second class feel to it.

Last but not least, New Yorkers are astounded that a small restaurant group from (gag) Pennsylvania is going to get a shot at the big time. How did it happen? The New York Post again has a theory.

Post City Hall Bureau Chief David Seifman revealed that Salama is the brother-in-law of former Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey, a close pal of Mayor Bloomberg and a top executive at Bloomberg LP.

Could it be nepotism? Hmm… City Comptroller John Liu says his office will “investigate.” You never know? Liu’s office revoked the contract of the former Central Park Carousel operator for not keeping up with required maintenance. It’s entirely possible. But if it is true, we’ll probably never find out. At least the menu looks good. Check out our concurrent post with a preview of the new menu for Tavern on the Green.

What do you think? Are things falling apart before they’ve begun? Or are New Yorkers simply always hungry for controversy?

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Menu for the new Tavern on the Green

Former Tavern on the Green's Roasted Chicken

Former Tavern on the Green’s Roasted Chicken

Straight from the source, Tavern’s new chef Katy Sparks gives us a sneak peak at what their menu may look like:

Red Chili and Almond Caramel Corn with Smoked Sea Salt
Fried Organic Chicken Livers with a Hot Mustard Sauce and Pickled Golden Raisins
Baked Chorizo with Medjool Dates
Seasonal Crudites with Anchoiade
Roasted Marcona Almonds
Oven-Warmed Olives

Warm Montauk Squid Salad with Fennel, Olives and House-pickled Hot Peppers
Stone Church Duck Livers on Rosemary Skewers with Celery Root-Dried Apricot Slaw
Baby Octopus with Golden Potato Croutons, Red Wine Dressing
Bruschetta with Burrata Cheese, Blistered Tomatoes and Anchovies, Salsa Verde

(served with signature Chimichurri sauce)

Free Range Chicken in a Marjoram-Cumin marinade, Fresh Cranberry Beans and Blistered Tomatoes, Shishito peppers and Cippolini
Grass-fed Ribeye Steak with Pickled Bone Marrow, Grilled Leeks with Romesco and Patatas Bravas
Local Lamb Chops with Saffron and Ginger, Farro with Medjool dates and Almonds
Honjake Sustainably Farmed Salmon with New Potatoes,Wild Arugula and Harissa Aioli
Marinated Skirt Steak with Red Onion Marmalade, Dandelion greens and Golden potato croutons, Fresh Farm Egg
Heritage breed Pork Chop, Cauliflower Gratin, Caramelized Apple-Sage
Grass-fed Beef Burger on Rosemary Focaccia with Aioli and Homemade Potato Chips

Crimini Mushrooms with VT blue cheese, Red Chili and Basil, Baguette
Blistered Citrus Salad with Feta, Radish and Mint
Spice-seared Shrimp on Creamy White Grits, Meat Hook Chorizo
Fresh Sardines in vine leaves with Lemon and Sumac
Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Burnt Orange and Coriander
Local Sea Scallops with Citrus Butter, Fried Shallots and Capers

Chickpea Polenta with Lamb Ragout and Fava Beans with Mint
Marinated Vermont Quail, blistered Red Grape and Pinenut relish
Whole Baby Chicken with Apple, Sage and Garlic Potatoes
Honjake Salmon with Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage,
Horseradish Crème Fraiche
Skate with Meyer Lemon, Toasted Almond and Wild Arugula

Grilled Local Asparagus with Lemon Aioli
Grilled Leeks with Romesco
Sliced Heirloom Tomatoes with Sel Gris
Wilted Greens with Lemon, Anchovy and Garlic
Blistered Young Carrots with Orange and Sumac
Farro with Medjool dates and almonds
Cauliflower Gratin
Creamed Kale
Golden Potato Puree
Patatas Bravas

Warm Apple Tart with Anise Ice Cream
Mast Brothers Chocolate Torte with Burnt Orange Ice Cream
Meyer Lemon Panacotta with Huckleberries and Toasted Pistachio
Medjool Date and Honey Semifreddo with a Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
Butterscotch Pudding with Red Chili and Almond Caramel Corn

Selection of 3 Farmstead Cheeses with Spiced Toasts

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Central Park Reopens after Hurricane Sandy

Thanks to the tireless work of the Central Park Conservancy, Central Park is reopened as of today. Certain areas of the park will remain closed while work continues. Over 550 trees were destroyed or damaged due to Hurricane Sandy

On another note, the New York City Marathon has been canceled. Mayor Bloomberg had intended to move forward with the event as it would bring the city much needed revenue however many believed that the marathon would divert much needed police and resources away from those who were still suffering the effects of our recent disaster.

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Central Park closed due to Hurricane Sandy

Central Park took a beating Monday as Superstorm Sandy descended upon New York City. City officials closed the park in Sunday in anticipation to protect pedestrians from falling branches and to prepare as much as possible for the oncoming storm. Unfortunately, when all was said and done, over 250 mature trees were uprooted or compromised, countless benches and fences destroyed, serious damage to the park’s ballfields, and many of the structures built for the New York City Marathon collapsed.

“It’s looking pretty bad,” a Central Park Conservancy employee told a reporter from the New Yorker. “There are a lot of downed trees, a lot of snapped trees, a lot of trees uprooted.”

Doug Blonsky, the head of the Central Park Conservancy, alerted would be park-goers yesterday that Conservancy staff are clearing roads and pruning limbs as quickly as possible in an effort to have the park open for the New York City Marathon which takes place on November 4th. The finish line for the marathon is in front of Tavern on the Green.

Hopefully, they will meet their deadline but for now, the park remains closed until further notice.

Contractors, supervised by Conservancy staff, have helped to clean and restore the Park. 1121

Benches completely destroyed

The tent for the New York City marathon

An uprooted tree completely crushed a pipe rail fence in Memorial Grove

Trees blocking Park paths have been prioritized for removal.

Downed trees everywhere

Pictures via Central Park Conservancy and Business Insider

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Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis kiss in Central Park – photo by Splash News

Everyone enjoys Central Park! And while we would never spy on its visitors, we couldn’t resist posting this photo that Splash News took of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis making out in the park. Pretty people in a pretty park.

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2012 Underwear Run Kicks Off NYC Triathalon

Last night the park was filled with patriotic and scantily clad runners… and The Naked Cowboy. Hundreds of men and women wearing only underwear (and in many cases crazy wigs, capes, body paint and American Flags) gathered to kick off the New York City Marathon by running 1.7 miles. Here’s what you missed:

2012 Underwear Run - Girl with I Heart USA painted on abs

2012 Underwear Run - Orange

Courtesy Nellies78

2012 Underwear Run - Pink Shorts

Courtesy Nellies78

2012 Underwear Run - Beefcake

2012 Underwear Run - Naked Cowboy

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