Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Portland's Mill Ends Park is back, its shrubs - both of them - looking better than ever.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Portland's Mill Ends park is back, its concrete basin and both shrubs looking better than ever. Pedestrian and bike friendly changes to Naito Parkway should make visiting the world's smallest park slightly easier and less dangerous.

Mill Ends Park, a pocket handkerchief-sized scoop of soil, containing two types of plants, has been restored

The park was removed during roadwork and was returned this week with a new concrete container, plants and mini sign. The work is part of the seemingly endless Better Naito Forever project by the Portland Bureau of Transportation. The road project was due to be completed in December 2021. Portland Parks & Recreation operates the park, which Portlanders often stumble upon as they cross Naito Parkway beside the waterfront at Taylor Street.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Federal appeals judge Danielle Forrest (second left) and colleagues, including judicial law clerk Rahgan Jensen, at the newly restored Mill Ends Park on Thursday Jan. 20, 2022.

A PBOT spokesperson noted that the park moved "a full 6 inches west from its previous location," and has a new cloverleaf-shaped border now, where it used to be round.

As a city park, Mill Ends has its own maintenance schedule, is watered and weeded. The park appeared in 1946, in a story by Oregon Journal newspaperman Dick Fagan. He wrote a column called Mill Ends, of minor observations in the city, named for the left-over wood from lumber mills. Fagan saw a hole in the street that lost a light pole and was never filled in. In the great tradition of journalists writing about what's on their doorstep, he planted flowers, called it a park, then wrote about it and the family of leprechauns he imagined living there.

The park was dedicated on St. Patrick's Day in 1948. Over the years Portlanders have installed items such as a miniature swimming pool and a Ferris wheel.

It became an official Portland park on St. Patrick's Day in 1976, but Guinness World Records called it the world's smallest park in 1971.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - New plantings feature in Portland's Mill Ends park, which is officially the world's smallest park, which reopened this week.

On a recent afternoon, Danielle Forrest was showing off the newly restored park to three out-of-town visitors. "It basically looked the same, although the curb thing was less fancy," she said, noting that people used to steal the plants, but also that she would see things that people had left to prettify the park.

Forrest, formerly Danielle Hunsaker, is a federal appeals court judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. She was showing some young lawyers around Portland, whom she said were going to be working with her.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Spot the world's smallest park: Mill Ends Park is in the median of Naito Parkway where it meets Taylor Street at the Portland waterfront. The park is behind the two construction workers in the photo.

"Actually, I think there was a little bit more room because of the scallops. It's a little smaller now," Forrest joked.

The park is about 2 feet across, with a total area of 452 square inches. The sign also was moved to a more central position than before.

Her colleague, judicial law clerk Rahgan Jensen, said she enjoyed the park and probably would have stopped for a selfie if she had been alone, and would even have used the hashtag for a social media post.

"It would be worth looking up," Jensen said.

Forrest added that, in the past, she had brought her children to the park with their foreign exchange student. The kids had adopted yoga poses right there on the median so they could say they had done yoga in the world's smallest park.

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND PARKS & RECREATION - The newly relocated Mill Ends Park.

Better Naito Forever has been going for over a year, adding bike lanes, new traffic lights and an improved ramp to the Hawthorne Bridge. When it opens, there will be a permanent two-way bikeway and sidewalk along the west side of Waterfront Park. The installation of additional planters, permanent striping and tree planting along the corridor will happen later this spring.

"In Portland, we've long embraced the quirky, creative spirit that drives our city," says Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio. "Mill Ends Park embodies that spirit. Bike and pedestrian safety improvements in the Better Naito Forever project will now allow more Portlanders to safely visit this iconic park and the leprechauns living there."

The park was moved temporarily in 2006 for construction on Naito Parkway and replaced on March 16, 2007. In a press release PBOT said "the world's smallest ribbon-cutting, at the world's smallest park" would be scheduled soon.

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Portland Tribune
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