It’s true! Mill Ends Park, the World’s Smallest Park is in Portland, Oregon and I can’t remember if there’s an episode of Portlandia which features it. (Come on Fred and Carrie, this episode practically writes itself!)
It all started with an internet hunt to do or find something weird or wacky for Kendel while he visited Portland for the first time, but alas we forgot to actually look for this park while he was actually here. D’oh! I feel like Homer. But as we were having dinner with Maijken, Jason and Ashbury at their beautiful new home (#LeaveItToBeaverton) crazy uncle Jon recants his kitchy find and proceeds to read the Wikipedia entry in its entirety until we tell him to move on (shut up!). Here are some highlights of Mill Ends Park courtesy of Wikipedia:
- It is the smallest park in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, which first granted it this recognition in 1971
- The park is a small circle 2 ft (0.61 m) across, with a total area of 452 sq in (0.292 m2)
- In 1948 the site that would become Mill Ends Park was intended to be the site for a light pole.
- Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal, planted flowers in the hole and named it after his column in the paper, “Mill Ends”
- Mill Ends are leftover irregular pieces of wood at lumber mills
- The park was dedicated on St. Patrick’s Day, 1948, as “the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland”, according to Fagan.
- It was named an official city park in 1976
The legend says…
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. 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.
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.
Of course, it sounds unbelievable but this park does exist just don’t blame me if the leprechauns don’t want to make an appearance during your visit.
The following morning, we take the MAX into Downtown Portland from Beaverton still dressed in yesterday’s clothes, and walk a few blocks towards the waterfront to find it. We walked to the middle divider and there it was, a plop of land. <insert Portlandia jokes>