Mill Ends Park

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Mill Ends Park
Mill Ends Park 2007.jpg
Mill Ends Park, the smallest park in the world, summer 2007
Type Urban park
Location Portland, Oregon
Coordinates 45°30′58″N 122°40′24″W / 45.516194°N 122.673226°W / 45.516194; -122.673226
Area 452 sq in (0.292 m2)
Created 1948
Operated by Portland Parks & Recreation

Mill Ends Park (sometimes mistakenly called Mill's End Park)[1] is a tiny urban park located in the median strip of SW Naito Parkway, approaching esplanade along the Willamette River near SW Taylor Street in downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. The park is a small circle 2 ft (0.61 m) across, with a total area of 452 sq in (0.292 m2). It is the smallest park in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, which first granted it this recognition in 1971.[2]

History[edit]

The park in summer 2004 (before remodeling)

In 1948 the site that would become Mill Ends Park was intended to be the site for a light pole. When the pole failed to appear and weeds sprouted in the opening, Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal, planted flowers in the hole and named it after his column in the paper, "Mill Ends" (a reference to leftover irregular pieces of wood at lumber mills). Fagan's office in the Journal building overlooked the median in the middle of the busy thoroughfare that ran in front of the building (then known as SW Front Avenue).

The park was dedicated on St. Patrick's Day, 1948, as "the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland," according to Fagan.[3]

Legend[edit]

Autumn close up of Mill Ends Park

Fagan told the story of the park's origin: He looked out the window and spotted a leprechaun digging in the hole. He ran down and grabbed the leprechaun, which meant that he had earned a wish. Fagan said he wished for a park of his own; but since he had not specified the size of the park in his wish, the leprechaun gave him the hole.[4] Over the next two decades, Fagan often featured the park and its head leprechaun in his whimsical column. Fagan claimed to be the only person who could see the head leprechaun, Patrick O'Toole.[3]

Fagan published a threat by O'Toole about the 11 o'clock curfew set on all city parks. O'Toole dared the mayor to try to evict him and his followers from Mill Ends, and threatened a leprechaun curse on him should he attempt to do so. Subsequently, no legal action was taken, and the leprechauns were allowed to stay in the park after hours.[5]

Evolution[edit]

Fagan died of cancer in 1969, but the park lives on, cared for by others. It was named an official city park in 1976.[2]

The small circle has featured many unusual items through the decades, including a swimming pool for butterflies—complete with diving board, a horseshoe, a fragment of the Journal building, and a miniature Ferris wheel which was delivered by a full size crane. On St. Patrick's Day, 2001, the park was visited by a tiny leprechaun leaning against his pot of gold and children's drawings of four-leaf clovers and leprechauns.[2] The park continues to be the site of St. Patrick's Day festivities. The events held here include concerts by Clan Macleay Pipe Band, picnics, and rose plantings by the Junior Rose Festival Court.[3]

In February 2006 the park was temporarily relocated during road construction to a planter outside the World Trade Center Portland, about 80 feet (24 m) from its permanent location. It was returned to its home—now named SW Naito Parkway—on March 16, 2007, in true St. Patrick's Day style with the Royal Rosarians, bagpipers, and the Fagan family, including Dick's widow, Katherine, in attendance.[3][6] The legend lives on in the Fagan family. One of Fagan's sons, Pat Fagan, lives in Gladstone and has enjoyed sharing the park with his own son. "He loves it", Pat Fagan said. "It's still the largest leprechaun colony west of Ireland."[7]

In December 2011, plastic army men figures and small signs were placed in Mill Ends as a tongue-in-cheek flash mob demonstration for Occupy Portland.[8] One man, Cameron Scott Whitten, was arrested after he was asked by police to move from the sidewalk, and refused.[9]

In March 2013 the park's tree was stolen. Officials planted a replacement tree, and one day later a passerby found what appeared to be the stolen tree lying next to the new one.[10][11]

See also[edit]

  • Forest Park, also in Portland, among the largest urban forests in the country at over 5,000 acres
  • Waldo Park, another small park consisting of a tree, located in nearby Salem

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oregon.com
  2. ^ a b c Young, Amalie (May 6, 2001). "One step and you've left Mill Ends Park". The Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. Retrieved July 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d City of Portland. "Portland Parks and Recreation: Mill Ends Park". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  4. ^ Kimmel, Eric A. "Mill Ends Park". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Portland State University. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  5. ^ Jen West (2008-08-28), "Mill Ends Park: The Smallest Park in the World – Portland, Oregon …", BootsnAll (BootsnAll Travel Network, LLC. Travel Network, LLC.), retrieved 2011-11-11 
  6. ^ Hayes, Chatten (March 15, 2007). "It's a big occasion for tiniest park on planet". inPortland magazine (The Oregonian). 
  7. ^ "Stumptown Stumper". Portland Tribune. August 24, 2006. Retrieved April 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ Ronning, Gina (December 16, 2011). "The Biggest Occupation Ever". Portland Occupier. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  9. ^ Mather, Kate (December 16, 2011). "One person arrested after Occupy Portland flash mob in Mill Ends Park". Oregon Live. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  10. ^ Hottman, Sara (March 7, 2013). "Tree Stolen from Mill Ends Park Replaced – For the Good of Leprechauns, Officials Say". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  11. ^ Hottman, Sara (March 8, 2013). "Tree Stolen from Portland's Mill Ends Park Returned – Maybe Leprechaun Magic, Maybe Remorse, Officials Say". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Mill Ends Park at Wikimedia Commons