Owl's Head Park

Billy Lake Courts

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

These basketball courts honor the memory of William D. Lake, (1956-2001) a firefighter and Bay Ridge native who died while saving lives in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.


William Lake was born October 30, 1956, the third of William and Helen Lake’s four children.  His attraction to firefighting started at an early age, when Billy would visit his uncle’s nearby firehouse.  Lake attended Powell Memorial Academy in Manhattan.  Lake’s career in the New York City Fire Department began in September of 1981 at Engine 219 in Brooklyn.  After serving six years at the Dean Street firehouse, he moved to Rescue 2 where he earned a reputation as an outstanding lifesaver.  He married and had a son, Kyler, in 1994.


In 1995 America suffered what was then the worst act of terrorism in its history, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City.  Firefighter Lake volunteered to help in the recovery effort, and in an account he wrote himself, he said working there made him “proud to be an American.”  In addition to this self-fulfillment, Firefighter Lake also received a presidential commendation.


Firefighter Lake suffered severe injuries while saving lives, including hearing loss from underwater rescues and skin burns from chemicals.  He also took pains to save the life of animals as well.  One winter he performed “mouth-to-snout” respiration on a dog he pulled from Prospect Park Lake, and in June of 2000 he led the effort to save a horse from a burning stable in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn.


Lake’s entire family gathered to celebrate his mother’s 75th birthday on Sunday, September 9, 2001.  On Monday, September 10, Rescue 2 held a dinner for his 20th anniversary in the Fire Department.  On Tuesday, September 11, he and six other men of Rescue 2 died together in the Twin Towers.


State Senator Martin J. Golden initiated the efforts to have a section of Owl’s Head Park named in Lake’s honor.  In the interim, the New York City Council named the southwest corner of the intersection of 71st Street and 3rd Avenue “Billy Lake Place.”  On September 17, 2004, Commissioner Benepe honored Firefighter Lake by naming these basketball courts for Billy Lake.

Directions to Owl's Head Park

Was this information helpful?