Another Portland landmark, this one falls within the whimsically peculiar category, that should be visited by both locals and visitors alike, is Mill Ends Park.
Acknowledged by The Guinness Book of World Records as the Smallest Park in the World, Mill Ends has a whimsical history and a peculiar location.
On the west side of the river nestled between opposing traffic lanes, flanked by two posts on Natio Parkway at Tayler St., is Mill Ends Park. 899 SW Natio Parkway.
Roughly 2 feet in diameter the smallest park in the world is the quirky and nationally famous park created by a newspaperman, Dick Fagan, back in 1946.
From his office window at the Oregon Journal newspaper Dick had a view of a hole in the street where a lamp post was suppose to be installed. When the lamp post failed to be installed Dick decided to beautify his office window view. He filled the hole in with dirt and planted flowers.
As a journalist and an Irishman with a colorful imagination, Dick began incorporating the park in his column, Mill Ends (rough, irregular pieces of lumber left over at lumber mills). He wrote tales about a village of leprechauns who inhabited the park and announced park events like, snail races! Dick proclaimed the park the “World’s Smallest Park” and it was dedicated on St. Patrick’s Day in 1948. Officially Mill Ends became a city park on St. Patrick’s Day in 1976. And in 1971 Guinness proclaimed Mill Ends Park the world’s smallest park.
Depending on the season and the creativity of the people who visit the park, a plethora of foliage, animals ( horses, unicorns, turtles) and design elements (swimming pools, ferris wheels, fences, benches) and even a UFO sighting was documented at this tiny park. Big people have been seen taking their lives in their hands ( it does sit between two very highly trafficked lanes of traffic) catching some rays, reading a book, celebrating during the wee hours of the morning, and one yelper had this to say about the park “I almost want my boyfriend to propose in this park just to say it happened…”
To this day this park and the area along Natio Parkway continues to host one of the city of Portland’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the Shamrock Run. A plague briefly detailing the history of the park is located on the sidewalk intersection of Tayler St at Natio Parkway.