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Mill Ends Park, world's smallest park, Portland, Oregon, parklet, public spaces, urban design, park, green cities, mini-park, tiny spaces, leprechaun

Dick Fagan returned to Portland in 1946 after serving in World War Two. A journalist, his office at the Oregon Journal looked over what was then Front Street, but is now Naito Parkway. A hole had been dug in the middle of the street for a light pole, but the light was never installed and the hole began to overgrow with weeds. Eventually Fagan couldn’t stand the scrappy sight and planted some flowers in the hole to beautify the space. He then began to write stories about happenings in what he proclaimed to be “the world’s smallest park.”

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Fagan dedicated the park on St. Patrick’s Day 1948, and would tell a slightly more elaborate origin story than a simple wish to improve the view from his office. He claimed that one day he was looking out the window at the hole and spotted a leprechaun dancing around in it. He rushed down and grabbed the leprechaun, whom he said was named Patrick O’Toole. Folklore has it that if a human succeeds in capturing a leprechaun, the leprechaun must grant the person three wishes in order to be released. Fagan wished for a park of his own, but true to the cheeky ways of leprechauns, because Fagan hadn’t specified the size of the park he wanted, he was given the hole to fulfill his wish. Fagan went on to claim the park was home to “the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland.”

Fagan continued to amuse Portland by publishing tales of the activities in the park until his death in 1969. The City of Portland made the by-then quite famous space an official city park on St. Patrick’s Day 1976. The park was temporarily relocated to the side of the road in 2006 while roadworks were underway, and its return to its official position was celebrated – again on St. Patrick’s Day – in 2007. Over the years the park has been decorated with a miniature Ferris wheel, a swimming pool, plastic animals and seasonal decorations, and was also the site of an Occupy demonstration in 2011, at which one person was arrested. The park’s Douglas Fir tree was stolen in 2013, though the original tree was returned after city gardeners had replaced it. Happily, the stolen tree was replanted elsewhere. Now an established and quirky Portland attraction, the ever-changing landscaping of Mill Ends is also well-documented on Instagram.

Via Oddity Central

Images by Craig Dietrich via Flickr; Matt Rashleigh via Twitter; TravelPortlandPR via Twitter; brx0 via Flickr; EncMstr via Wikimedia Commons; Dukvia Wikimedia Commons; Another Believer via Wikimedia Commons; and 7263255 via Flickr.