Have you ever heard of Mill Ends Park? It's the smallest park in the world and is inhabited by tiny leprechauns and other creatures. You may find slides, swings, and other objects of joy there. It's also right here in downtown Portland, Oregon.
I kid you not. This is a honest-to-goodness official state park that sits right in the middle of busy traffic on Naito Parkway in the downtown area of Portland. Hey! I've already made it perfectly clear that this city is weird. Actually, I prefer "quirky or unique." ;)
A writer for the Oregon Journal by the name of Dick Fagan began talking about this unique place in 1946. His office overlooked the small plot of land that sat close by the Portland Waterfront Park. Mr. Fagan wrote a column for the paper called "Mill Ends," which is a lumber term used to describe pieces of lumber left over in a mill.
Dick would often stare outside his second floor window, down upon what was then known as Front Avenue. As a creative person myself, I can almost see the creative juices flowing steadily through his brain until he finally had a scathingly brilliant idea.
He began by pumping out a story which told the tale of his spotting a tiny leprechaun, prancing about a hole in the median (a light pole was eventually supposed to be placed there. It never materialized and Dick decided to plant flowers there instead).
One day as he was gazing out the window, he noticed movement in the hole. He immediately rushed downstairs, out the door, and into traffic where it lay. To his amazement, he found a leprechaun, busy as a bee.
The tiny fellow continued his business, but Dick had other plans. He caught the creature and demanded a wish (as legends go). Leprechaun Patrick O'Toole agreed to grant a wish and Mr. Fagan proceeded to wish for a park of his very own.
Neglecting any specifics, Patrick proclaimed that the tiny hole now belonged to Dick and the rest is silly history.
Now, Mill Ends Park is only a 2-ft across circle, but Dick was proud of it. He began spinning tall tales in his column about the adventures of Patrick O'Toole and his other friends and, what he dubbed as "the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland."
Portland actually has a strict policy that no one is to be in the city parks past eleven o'clock. According to Dick Fagan, that didn't sit well with Patrick. With Mr. Fagan's journalistic help, the leprechaun actually dared the mayor of Portland to try to kick him out of Mill Ends Park. He wasn't budging. Needless to say, the major looked the other way and no charges were ever filled against Mr. O'Toole. ;)
Mill Ends was actually dedicated on St Patrick's Day in 1948 and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest park in the world.
Dick Fagan passed in 1968, after a bout with cancer. In true Portland fashion, the park survived and recognized as an official park in 1978. To this day, the locals take care of the park, planting flowers, keeping it maintained, and even providing small toys for the teeny residence who still live there.
When Front Avenue went under construction to become what is now Naito Parkway, Mill Ends Park was temporarily moved. Once everything was finished on the thoroughfare running parallel to the Willamette River, the park was restored to it's glory and met with a party, which included the wife and family of Mr. Dick Fagan.
Now you know the story of the smallest park in the world, Mill Ends Park. And you can sleep a bit easier. haha. ;)