For over a century, the scenic picnic grounds located near the southwest shores of Lake Harriet at the intersection of West Lake Harriet Parkway and 45th St. W have been a popular gathering place for people of all ages. The first picnic shelter at Beard’s Plaisance was constructed in 1904. The current picnic shelter dating to 2002 accommodates up to 80 people. Equipped with grills, tables, water and electricity, the shelter is available for reservations.
The park also features several outdoor grills and picnic tables for use on a first-come, first-served basis. The park’s tennis courts provide a pleasant recreational pastime for picnickers and park goers alike. A new play area features nature-themed equipment, designed for children ages 2–5, and school-aged kids, ages 5–12. Equipment includes slides, climbers and swings.
Beard’s Plaisance is one of the city’s oldest parks; it was developed on land donated by Henry Beard, James Merritt and Charles Reeve in 1884. Although it was later determined the land wasn’t theirs to give, the men were cleared of any wrongdoing in the transaction. The picnic area was however named in Beard’s honor in 1893. “Plaisance” is derived from the French word for “pleasure ground.”
Historical Profile: More information about this and other parks is included in Parks, Lakes, Trails and So Much More, a richly detailed account of the histories of Minneapolis’ renown recreational system.