One of Portland’s biggest (smallest?) claims to fame is hidden in plain sight. Plenty of commuters drive right past it every day + never spare it a glance. But that’s how the local leprechauns like it. We’re talking about Mill Ends Park — AKA the world’s smallest park.
You can find this tiny patch of nature in the median strip of Southwest Naito Parkway. Measuring a whopping 452 sq. inches (or 0.00007205784 acres), Mill Ends Park isn’t exactly imposing — unless you’re an ant. The park was closed last year during work on the Better Naito Forever project, but it recently reopened in a new location … a full six inches from its original spot.
The park’s story started in 1946 with journalist Dick Fagan. Dick was working from a second-story office above Front Street (now Naito Parkway) when he noticed a hole in the median where a light pole was supposed to be installed. No light pole ever showed up — so good old Dick decided to spruce up the space himself by planting flowers.
Dick went on to write about the park in his popular column titled “Mill Ends,” so named for the leftover ends of wood at lumber mills. He painted a whimsical picture of the park — from snail races to the “only leprechaun colony west of Ireland” that called it home.
Mill Ends Park was crowned the smallest of its kind by Guinness World Records in 1971 + and it became an official city park on St. Patrick’s Day of 1976. Dick’s descendants still gather there to celebrate the holiday every March.
You can count on a new experience each time you visit. City workers like to change out the plantings + little tokens make appearances — from a swimming pool for butterflies to holiday decorations. The Trail Blazers even unveiled last season’s court design in the park. (Just don’t go adding any rogue cannabis plants, the city doesn’t like that.)