It is impossible to think of Manhattan without Central Park. More difficult still to imagine this lush landscape as a swampy, craggy, hunting ground swarming with beaver.

But that’s what it was in the 17th century when two Dutch families built a homestead in the “prepark” and grew tobacco on 200 acres just north of today’s 110th Street.

On May 18, Central Park Conservancy Historian Emerita Sara Cedar Miller will tell the story of the parkland’s early days: Lenape communities, Dutch settlers, abundant beaver, fiercely fought wars– and that’s just the first chapter of her new book, BEFORE CENTRAL PARK. Architect and historical painter Len Tantillo created an image of the Dutch homestead and will introduce Ms. Miller. Manhattan Borough Historian Robert Snyder will conduct what is sure to be a lively Q&A after the talk.