Why would tourists visit Portland, Oregon? Hazelnuts (filberts) and berries are plentiful and feature in dishes of locavores (those who prefer locally-produced meals). The downtown is clean, there is a widely respected (…by those in the public transit industry?) train/tram system, food trucks/stalls are on the rise, it is a gateway to lands that nature-enthusiasts admire, and then there’s the nature that some Portlanders are much more “one” with – grass. They’ve even got flights to Tokyo, North Bend and Fresno, so what’s not to like?
But can you name a point of interest in the city? No problem, they’re low-key (actually, can the average person name a tourist attraction in Tokyo? If you’re response was just the word “weird,” I’d give you credit). Do you know of the National Park Service’s Statue of Liberty, and that it’s the largest copper statue in the US? How about the second-in-command? GreetingsfromPortlandia would mention that the #2 is Portlandia, , finished in 1985, again making me feel old (and sagacious? That’s taking it too far.)
If you do know of a Portland landmark that isn’t also a figment of your imagination, it might be Mill Ends Park. Located at the junction of SW Naito Parkway and SW Taylor Street, it is deemed as the world’s smallest (urban) park. That is, once you leave an urban area anywhere, would you ever find plot of land this small that has the sole purpose of competing against Mill Ends’s title? If you ever needed inspiration to do something, this is IT.
Its evolution to park status was the brainchild of Mr Dick Fagan, an Irishman who was also probably a bit too familiar with grass. In 1946, his office overlooked the busy street (now SW Naito Parkway), and the plot where the park is now was at the time, bereft of a light pole. He took pity on the inanimate space and planted flowers, and, owing to his roots, claimed a leprechaun lived near it. (Link thanks to Atlas Obscura) On St. Patrick’s Day 1948, it was officially named Mill Ends (a name owing to humble Portland beginnings at lumber yards), and in 1976, it became a city park. Over the years, citizens have temporarily added flowers, rocks and plastic-ware to show their appreciation, and according to katu.com, one denimed soul has even occupied it. That last story is boss, and may be the reason why I continue to enjoy doing a bit of research for my posts. Though just wait until you’ve seen the place:
This marks my 50th post as BuildingMyBento. I’m interested in hearing your insight/feedback/grudges and am curious which topics have been more memorable than others. Thank you, and terima kasih.