The story behind the World's Smallest Park is even more delightful than you'd expect.

Like any good dreamer, Dick Fagan spent time writing, listening, and staring out his office window, a detail which is important to this story.

More than 70 years ago, from his desk on the second floor at The Oregon Journal, Fagan noticed a small, round concrete traffic median on top of which a traffic signal would be installed. Construction eventually wrapped up on the median, but no light or traffic signal ever went in.

Soon, the bare space grew thick with weeds and neglect.


After watching the space go unattended, Fagan went down to the median himself, cleared the weeds and trash, and planted some flowers.

Mill Ends Park from above. Photo by Don Ryan/AP.

He called it Mill Ends Park, after his popular newspaper column of the same name ("mill ends" are the odd, rough pieces of lumber often left over and discarded at mills).

On St. Patrick's Day in 1948, Fagan held a dedication ceremony and declared Mill Ends to be the World's Smallest Park.

Fagan, a proud Irishman, used his column to describe the "goings-on" at the tiny park, sharing whimsical tales of an active leprechaun colony led by head leprechaun, Patrick O'Toole.

He continued writing about the park and its fantastical inhabitants until his death in 1969. Shortly before he died, the city held a rededication ceremony for Mill Ends, complete with city council members, a ribbon cutting, an Irish pipe band, and an Irish dance group.

A local group gifted Fagan a permanent cement enclosure for the park, complete with stadium turf and a handmade leprechaun statue. Fagan was too ill to attend the ceremony and passed away just a few weeks later.

Mill Ends Park lives on to this day and has even earned international recognition.

Since 1976, Mill Ends has been an official Portland city park.

At 452.16 square inches (about the size of a laundry basket) it holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the world’s smallest park.

Mill Ends Park in 2007. Photo by brx0/Flickr.

Though it was moved briefly for roadwork, Mill Ends Park still sits in the median at the intersection of what is now Naito Parkway and Taylor Street.

The city looks after it, replacing the small tree and plants as needed, just as it would any other public park.

Mill Ends Park in 2017. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

Tourists and locals alike are encouraged to visit.

Just keep an eye out for traffic.

Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

Over the years, the park has seen improvements like a butterfly swimming pool, a tiny ferris wheel delivered via full-size crane, and even dinosaurs.

Last stop of the trip. Someone filled this tiny park with dinosaurs!

A post shared by TC Harrison (@tcorama) on

After all these years, it's still a great spot for the occasional picnic...

...or even a protest.

In 2011, the leprechauns  joined forces with demonstrators and hosted what is likely the smallest Occupy Portland event on record.

Mill Ends Park during Occupy Portland. Photos by Another Believer/Wikimedia Commons.

What began as Fagan's simple effort to beautify a forgotten space has now become a world-class (albeit odd) landmark.

Yes, it's one of the many things that "keeps Portland weird," but it's also a living tribute to ingenuity and creativity. Never doubt what one dreamer can do with a little potting soil and a lot of imagination.

Allison Wildman crouches low to get a photo. Photo by Don Ryan/AP.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."