Park Punctuation: King’s Highway, Bassett’s Creek or Beard’s Plaisance

One of those is wrong. One of the park property names—King’s, Bassett’s or Beard’s— shouldn’t have an apostrophe. I recently received an inquiry on one of those names and thought we might offer everyone this little quiz.

There are only two apostrophes found among all the official names of park properties in Minneapolis, not three. Which one is incorrect? The website of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board won’t be of much help.

William Smith King owned Lyndale Farm on the east shore of Lake Harriet. The highway named for him, a continuation of Dupont Avenue, runs past where his farmhouse and barns once stood in what is now Lyndale Farmstead Park. King was one of the most influential proponents of parks in Minneapolis and he served as a park commissioner in the 1880s. He later donated part of the Lake Harriet shoreline and much of the land for Lyndale Park just east of Lake Harriet

Joel Bean Bassett built his farm in the 1850s at the confluence of the Mississippi River and the creek in North Minneapolis named for him. The creek was sunk into a tunnel beneath downtown Minneapolis more than one hundred years ago. The name of the creek existed long before the park board acquired land along its banks in the 1930s.

Henry Beach Beard was an ordained minister who worked in Minneapolis primarily as a real estate developer. He owned much of the western shore of Lake Harriet and when the park board couldn’t afford to buy the lakeshore for a parkway, Beard and other landowners donated a strip of land around the lake for that purpose. Beard also donated the land for the picnic ground that now bears his name. By the way, “plaisance” is French for “pleasure”, or in this usage pleasure ground.

No other park named for a person—from Loring to Wirth, Brackett to Armatage—was encumbered with a possessive apostrophe.

David C. Smith


3 comments so far

  1. […] Bassett’s Creek, but not Beard’s Plaisance. (This apostrophic comment was begun here.) The “pleasure ground” was originally named “The Beard Plaisance.” […]

  2. on

    I believe that Basset Creek was named before the gift; therefore does not need an apostrophe.
    Elsa Carpenter

  3. sueleaf on

    The point is? I still don’t know which one should not have an apostrophe. It seems to me, grammatically speaking, they all should.

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