Before Central Park



de Forest Homestead 1637
       Created by Len Tantillo

The New Amsterdam History Center invites you to

A talk by

Sara Cedar Miller

Historian Emerita of the Central Park Conservancy

about her just-published book


With an Introduction by Artist Len Tantillo
Moderated by Manhattan Borough Historian Robert Snyder

Wednesday May 18, 2022

6 to 7:30 PM (EST)

Q & A Will Follow 

Visitors can hardly imagine Manhattan without Central Park, but the history of these 843 acres before it became the celebrated green space is a fascinating story told by Sara Cedar Miller, Historian Emerita of the Central Park Conservancy, in her new book, Before Central Park, published by Columbia University Press.

In 1637, Hendrick de Forest and his brother Isaac, with permission from the Dutch West India Company, arrived at what is today the northern end of Central Park and central Harlem to develop a tobacco bouwerie. When Henrick died soon after sowing his crop, his brother-in-law, Dr. Johannes de la Montagne, took over the 200-acre farm while also assuming the role of councilor to Director General Willem Kieft and his successor, Petrus Stuyvesant.

Inspired by this story, historian and painter Len Tantillo created a stunning depiction of the Montagne homestead set, most likely, in the northern part of today’s Central Park.

Join us for a fascinating program as Mr. Tantillo introduces Ms. Miller, and Manhattan Borough Historian Robert Snyder leads the Q&A after the presentation.

Note: Information about the de Forests (deFreests), Montagne, and the two Directors may be found in the NAHC Encyclopedia, Mapping Early New York, under Male Ancestors.

A Zoom link and password will be emailed to registered participants

 the day before the event.

For further information write to:

Sara Cedar Miller is Historian Emerita of the Central Park Conservancy and also served as the Conservancy’s official photographer. Her photographs have been distributed world-wide and she has appeared on radio, TV and in many documentaries on Central Park. She gives specialized tours and lectures on the prepark, and the Park’s history and art. In 2020, the Library of American Landscape History honored Miller with their

prestigious “Preservation Hero” award.

She is the author of Central Park: An American Masterpiece (Abrams, 2003), Strawberry Fields, Central Park’s Memorial to John Lennon (Abrams, 2011), Seeing Central Park: The Official Guidebook : Updated and Expanded (Abrams, 2021). Before Central Park (Columbia University, May 2022) Is her latest book. Ms. Miller’s website is


Len Tantillo, is a licensed architect who left the field of architecture to pursue a career in historical and marine painting, His work has appeared in exhibitions, publications and film documentaries, and is included in the collections of numerous museums, historical societies, and corporate and private collections. In 2021, the Albany Institute of History and Art honored Mr. Tantillo with a retrospective exhibit of his work. He lives in Albany, NY.

Robert W. Snyder is Manhattan Borough Historian and professor emeritus of journalism and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. Among his many books, he is the author of Crossing Broadway: Washington Heights and the Promise of New York and the coauthor of All the Nations Under Heaven: Immigrants, Migrants and the Making of New York. He has written for scholarly journals, newspapers and magazines, and worked with museums and the media to share history with the public. A former Fulbright lecturer in American Studies in Korea and a member of the New York Academy History, he lives in Manhattan.

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Amsterdam History Center, and mail to: New
Amsterdam History Center,

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