The World’s Smallest Park

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See that concrete planter in the middle of the street? Yes, that is the world’s smallest designated park. Located in the middle of SW Naito Parkway at the intersection with SW Taylor Street adjacent to the Multnomah River waterfront in Portland, Oregon, Mill Ends Park covers a grand total of 2,920 cm2 (0.000029 ha). The story behind it is rather whimsical: a journalist named Dick Fagan worked in 1948 for the Oregon Journal newspaper. His office was located on the second floor of the newspaper’s headquarters inside the Portland Public Market building, giving him a direct view of the intersection. One day, he noticed weeds growing inside of a hole in the street median originally dug for a streetlamp pole that was never installed. Fagan planted some flowers in the hole to spruce it up.

As the write of a popular newspaper column called Mill Ends (a reference to scrap lumber left over at sawmills), Fagan used his column to weave tall tales of the events of the events that took place inside his improvised ‘park’. As Fagan was of Irish descent, these stories revealed that his park was the home of ‘the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland’. Having spotted a leprechaun from his office window, he ran down and caught the mythological sprite, making Fagan eligible to receive one wish. Fagan desired a park to call his own. The leprechaun outsmarted him, though; as Fagan neglected to state the size of the park he would like, the leprechaun simply gave him the streetlamp hole. Naturally, Fagan dedicated the park on St. Patrick’s Day of 1948, naming it after his newspaper column.

Fagan continued to maintain the park and write stories about it in Mill Ends until his death in 1969. The city officially took over maintenance of Mill Ends Park and added it to its municipal parks register in 1976. The park was temporarily relocated to a street planter 24 m away in February 2006 to allow for road reconstruction; it was returned to its original location the next March.

Mill_Ends_Park_2007

Source: atul666, http://flickr.com/photos/78153302@N00/991437066. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.

Further Reading

City of Portland (2010). Mill Ends Park. Portland Parks & Recreation. Available at http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewPark&PropertyID;=265. Accessed 14 August 2010.

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