Robert Crawford was the Philadelphia commissioner of recreation under five mayors (1955-1981), and chair of the Fairmount Park Commission (1970-1981). Respected by Democrats and Republicans, Crawford persuaded city politicians of both parties that recreation enhanced people’s lives and was vital for the good of the city.
uring his tenure Crawford increased the number of Philadelphia’s recreational areas from 94 to 815, including 84 pools, 47 recreation centers, and nearly 400 parks and playgrounds.
When he retired in 1981, Mayor Bill Green said “I will tell you now who will take his place. Nobody, because nobody can.”
A recognized leader in his field, he served as president of the National Recreation and Park Association and co-founder and executive director of the National Recreation Foundation—the latter now awards an annual Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize to individuals who make an extraordinary contribution to recreational activities for at-risk youth.