The Legacy of Richardson Dilworth

Richardson Dilworth was a charismatic politician, lawyer and reformer who served as 91st mayor of Philadelphia from 1956 to 1962. Dilworth’s vision for the city shaped much of what is recognized about Philadelphia today, from Independence Mall and Society Hill to SEPTA and the public park system. Dilworth was at the forefront of a post-World War II reform movement in Philadelphia to instill the highest level of integrity and responsibility to earn the Public Trust and effectively steward Tax-payer’s funds. Mayor Dilworth’s contribution led to the adoption of a modern city charter that consolidated city and county offices and introduced civil service examinations on a broad scale to replace much of the existing patronage structure.

Photo courtesy of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania


Richardson Dilworth was known for his integrity; he denounced municipal corruption, supported civil rights, fought segregation in private schools, rallied for public housing and restored much of the city’s history as part of an urban renewal program that would bring the City of Brotherly Love back to life.

In 1933, he founded the law firm of Dilworth Paxson. Dilworth's legacy to the law firm was to see that every decision was guided by devotion to clients, dedication to our community, and a determination to make the tough, but right calls when necessary. Above all, this was to be a meritocracy where advancement was determined by accomplishment, not gender, race, or religious affiliation.

Richardson Dilworth died January 23, 1974 at the age of 75; he was married to Ann Elizabeth Kaufman. They had a daughter, Deborah, and a son, Richardson, Jr.



The Richardson Dilworth Award program is generously supported by:

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