Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson, has a woodworking hobby as does his counterpart in the show. He has released an instructional DVD in canoe building and runs a fine woodworking business on the side.
Ron Swanson's staunchly anti-government government official was based on a city planner who the show's producers met and interviewed when doing research. The planner was a Libertarian who admitted to them "I don't believe in the mission of my job."
The character Tom Haverford changed his name from Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani. The actor who plays Tom, Aziz Ansari, chose that as Tom's original name because it is his cousin's name. Ansari also shares with Tom the biographical fact that although his parents were originally from India, he was born and raised in a small town in South Carolina.
Pawnee Parks street map is a copy of the actual street map of Christchurch, New Zealand, with roads and other features renamed. For example Hagley Park, Christchurch is renamed Ramsett Park, and the Avon River which flows through central Christchurch is called the Pawnee River.
The series was originally planned as a direct spin-off of The Office (2005). It was later re-designed to be an original workplace story that would keep the "mockumentary" format used for the other series, which P&R executive producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur had both worked on (Daniels as creator, Schur as a writer and producer).
Six of the sixteen episodes of season 3 were filmed along with the 24 episodes of the second season because Amy Poehler was pregnant, so when the show was moved to mid season, the network ordered 10 more to have a complete season to air.
The two statues featured in the opening credits are two landmarks on Highway 18 in Montpelier, Indiana, a town located in the East-Central region of the state. The first is the Ice Cream Giant at Tin Lizzy, an ice cream shop just outside the town, and the second is the Muffler Man Indian in the center of town.
While a guest on "The Diane Rehm Show," Rob Lowe said that when he first interviewed for the role of Chris Traeger, the Parks and Recreation writers told him that they had based their show on Lowe's previous series The West Wing. He said that they told him, "'we're comedy writers. We're going to write a comedy, but what would the comedy version of "The West Wing" look like?' And the answer to them was, it wouldn't be the White House. It would be Parks and Recreation."
Pawnee was founded in 1817, which is likely a reference to the founding of the University of Michigan, located in Ann Arbor, the home town of one of the show's creators Michael Schur. There are also several other references to the city of Ann Arbor throughout the show.