Where We Live: Mill Ends Park

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland is home to a small park with a big claim to fame. 

Mill Ends Park is located in the median strip of Southwest Naito Parkway near Southwest Taylor Street. 

It’s the smallest park in the world — measuring a whopping 2 feet in diameter, according to Guinness World Records

Dick Fagan founded Mill Ends Park in the 1940s. (City of Portland) 

The 452-square-inch space was created in the 1940s by a journalist named Dick Fagan. 

Fagan worked for The Oregon Journal, which was located at the modern site of Tom McCall Waterfront Park. 

Fagan’s second-floor office overlooked Front Avenue (now Naito Parkway) and gave him a view of an unused hole in the median where a light pole was going to be placed, according to Portland Parks and Recreation

The light pole never came. Weeds soon overtook the space. 

Fagan decided to take action. 

City of Portland technician Matt Hill, June 15, 2019. (KOIN) 

“He got tired of looking at the hole, came down here and planted some flowers,” said Portland Park technician Matt Hill.

Fagan named the spot “Mill Ends Park” after the pieces of wood left over from the lumber milling process. 

But he wasn’t done with the park — not by a long shot. 

Fagan went on to write columns about it and claimed there were leprechauns living at the whimsical landmark. Those leprechauns, Fagan claimed, had a leader named Patrick O’Toole. He said it was the only leprechaun colony outside of Ireland. 

Hill said he personally has never seen one of the creatures but he has “heard stories.” 

Mill Ends Park was fittingly dedicated as an official city park on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1976.

A leprechaun statue at Mill Ends Park, June 15, 2019. (KOIN) 

Fagan didn’t live to see it become a city park as he died in 1969, but he did live to see the park grow into a popular tourist attraction.

The park was temporarily moved in 2006 while construction was carried out on Naito Parkway. A ceremony was held when it was replaced on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2007. Bagpipers, the Royal Rosarians and even Fagan’s wife Katherine attended the event. 

Today, Mill Ends Park remains a popular place for pictures and even picnics, according to Hill. 

It was even one of the downtown parks taken over by Occupy Portland in 2011. 

City officials maintain the park and plant fresh flowers each season. 

Mill Ends Park at the intersection of SW Taylor Street and Naito Parkway, June 15, 2019. (KOIN)

If you plan a visit to Portland’s special park, be sure to use caution around traffic. 

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