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Mill Ends Park is extremely small, only 2 feet (0.6 meters) in diameter. Travel along Naito Parkway and watch for a miniature break from the norm, a median-strip hole in the cement that has been transformed into a park.
Learn about the origins of this unusual park. In the immediate period after World War II Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal, used to look out of his window at an empty site that was reserved for a light pole. When no light pole materialized, he took matters into his own hands and planted flowers here. Fagan named his new park after his whimsical column, called “Mill Ends” after the term for irregular bits of leftover lumber.
Dick Fagan used his column to tell stories about the life of his new park, including its origin. He wrote that one day he looked out his window and saw a leprechaun on the street. He ran down and grabbed it, thereby earning himself a wish. Fagan wished for a park of his own but failed to specify the size, so the impish little leprechaun gave him the pint-sized hole in the median strip. Look carefully to see if the leprechaun has returned.
As you visit Mill Ends, imagine the raucous fictional goings-on of what Fagan termed “the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland.” After Fagan’s death, the space was cared for by others in the community and was named an official city park on St. Patrick’s Day, 1976. It has been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest park, beating competitors from Staffordshire, England.
Be alert for playful features added to the park by locals. Over the years, Mill Ends has been transformed into a tiny Jurassic Park, a recreation ground complete with pool and diving board and even a site for miniature plastic Occupy protesters.
Find Mill Ends Park at the intersection of Naito Parkway and SW Taylor Street, a quick walk from other downtown attractions including the Pioneer Courthouse and the South Park Blocks. Entry is free.
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