December 01, 2016

Behold, the World’s Smallest Park

Welcome to the next instalment of As the Bee Flies: Adventures in Free Range Navigation—  a series about life off the beaten track. By bike, by horse, by foot, by whatever means you care to get around by! We’d love to hear your stories of spontaneous exploration, or what you found on the way to your ultimate destination. And it need not be some far off exotic location, either. 

In this instalment Paul, our intrepid Beeliner in Portland, Oregon, takes us to visit the tiny but lively Mills End Park.

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Admit it. You’re partially blind, aren’t you? In the rhythm of your daily commute, the familiarity leads to selective invisibility of your surroundings. It’s a natural occurrence, but one that need not be a permanent condition. The next time you’re in the midst of it, make a point to look around. To listen. To smell. Yes, even that icky bit! You’ll be surprised by what you begin to experience all around you, that was there all along, just waiting for you to notice it.

I did exactly that recently, and came across a site I’d heard about early on in my tenure here in Portland, Oregon, and had since forgotten about: The world’s smallest park. Mill Ends Park resides in a traffic median on a busy downtown road, Naito Parkway, and could easily be mistaken for mere road greenery.

A small treasure, well loved, easily missed. What are some in your town?

Oh no, far from it. At 452 square inches, it packs in a lot of history, as it turns out. And Leprechauns apparently.

Looking out his office window, popular newspaper columnist Dick Fagan had a view of a hole in the street below. What was to be the site of a light pole never came to be. Instead, weeds flourished. Fagan ran with it and began telling the stories of “only leprechaun colony west of Ireland” in the park. An extensive community’s lives were chronicled in his columns, for more than 20 years.

Portland being Portland, there were a host of quirky additions made to the park, “…such as the small swimming pool and diving board for butterflies, many statues, a miniature Ferris wheel (which was brought in by a normal-sized crane), and the occasional flying saucer,” according to Portland Parks & Recreation.

A lot can happen in the spaces between busy places.

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What are some of your favourite lesser known spots you’ve come across recently? We’d love to hear about them, here in the comments, or if you’re game, in a post of your own, on here! 

Drop us a line at stories@beeline.co. Send us a brief blurb about what you’re thinking of sharing, and we’ll let you know if it’s a go. If it’s got visual elements to help tell the story, so much the better.


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