Mill Ends Park was created on St. Patrick's Day, 1948, to be "the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland," according to its creator, Dick Fagan. It is the smallest park in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, which first granted it this recognition in 1971.
In 1948, the site that would become Mill Ends Park was intended to be the site for a light pole. When the pole failed to appear and weeds sprouted in the opening, Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal, planted flowers in the hole and named it after his column in the paper, "Mill Ends" (a reference to leftover irregular pieces of wood at lumber mills). Fagan's office in the Journal building overlooked the median.
Fagan told the story of the park's origin: He looked out the window and spotted a leprechaun digging in the hole. He ran down and grabbed the leprechaun, which meant that he had earned a wish. Fagan said he wished for a park of his own; but since he had not specified the size of the park in his wish, the leprechaun gave him the hole. Over the next two decades, Fagan often featured the park and its head leprechaun, named Patrick O'Toole, in his whimsical column.
Fagan died of cancer in 1969, but the park lived on, cared for by others. It was named an official city park in 1976.