Portland residents no doubt have driven past Mill Ends Park and never even known it was there. Deemed the world’s smallest city park in 1971 by the Guinness Book of World Records, the park is merely two feet wide, and lies in the median of the Naito Parkway.
From the Portland Parks and Recreation website: “In 1946, Dick Fagan returned from World War II to resume his journalistic career with the Oregon Journal. His office, on the second floor above Front Street (now Naito Parkway), gave him a view of not only the busy street, but also an unused hole in the median where a light pole was to be placed. When no pole arrived to fill in this hole, weeds took over the space. Fagan decided to take matters into his own hands and to plant flowers.”
Fagan wrote a popular column called Mill Ends (rough, irregular pieces of lumber left over at lumber mills). He used this column to describe the wee park and the various “events” that occurred there. Fagan billed the spot as the “World’s Smallest Park.” Mill Ends Park was dedicated on St. Patrick’s Day in 1948 since Fagan was a “good Irishman”. He continued to write about activities in the park until he died in 1969. Many of his columns described the lives of a group of leprechauns, who established the “only leprechaun colony west of Ireland” in the park. Fagan claimed to be the only person who could see the head leprechaun, Patrick O’Toole. After Mill Ends officially became a city park on St. Patrick’s Day in 1976, the park continued to be the site of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
Over the years, many delightful contributions have been made to the park, such as a miniature swimming pool and diving board for butterflies, many statues, and a miniature Ferris wheel brought in by a full-sized crane.Events held at the park include concerts by Clan Macleay Pipe Band, picnics, and rose plantings by the Junior Rose Festival Court.
A plaque across the street describes the park and its origins.