Photo: NYC Parks / Daniel Avila

Playground name changed in honor of local resident Captain William Harry Thompson who perished on September 11, 2001 

On Friday, NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa joined Borough President Vanessa Gibson, State Assembly Member Kenny Burgos, City Councilwoman Amanda Farías, and community members and family of the late Captain William Harry Thompson to officially rename Playground 174 in his honor. 

“Captain William Harry Thompson was a member of the community and a hero, and we are honored to name this community playground in honor of his ultimate sacrifice,” said First Deputy Commissioner Rodriguez-Rosa. “Thanks to overwhelming support from the community, we are proud to rename Playground 174 in his honor, and hope that his memory and service will live on here at the playground.” 

Captain Thompson was born and raised in NYCHA’s Bronx River Houses, where Playground 174 is located. He served as a Court Officer for 27 years before becoming an instructor at the Court Officers Academy. On September 11, 2001, without hesitation, Captain Thompson ran into the World Trade Center and tragically lost his life while trying to save others during search and rescue efforts. Captain William Harry Thompson was a true hero. His family and community will never forget his bravery and the ultimate sacrifice he made. By naming the playground in his honor, his name and legacy will be memorialized for generations to come. 

The decision to change the playground name was made with strong support from local elected officials, Community Board 9, and the Bronx River Resident Association.  

“Serving as a New York State Court Officer for 27 years, before becoming an instructor at the Court Officers Academy, Captain Thompson was among those that we lost on 9/11 when he heroically ran into the World Trade Center to save others. He was a true American hero and it is an honor to be able to celebrate his life and legacy in the neighborhood that he called home. I want to thank NYC Parks & Recreation, Captain Thompson’s family and everyone else involved in the renaming of Playground 174 to Captain William Harry Thompson Playground,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson

“It is an honor to know that someone as brave and loving as Captain William Harry Thompson grew up in Council District 18 and was raised in Bronx River Houses. He was a loving father to his children, son to his parents, and an overall dedicated public servant to his community for 27 years. His death was a tremendous loss for The Bronx River community and New York City after he sacrificed his life during the attack on 9/11. This honor allows his legacy to continue on for the children in our community to learn his story and be inspired by his dedication to community and this city. I am overjoyed to honor his legacy by renaming a local playground after him,” said Council Member Amanda Farías

“When Captain William Harry Thompson ran into the World Trade Center, he knew that he was risking his life but he wanted to save others. He was a remarkable human being and will always be a true hero. Renaming the East 174th Street Playground after Captain Thompson is an honor and incredibly well-deserved. His bravery and sacrifice must never go unrecognized,” said State Assembly Member Kenny Burgos.  

The newly renamed Captain William Harry Playground is located minutes from the Bronx River, serving the neighboring Bronx River Houses as well as the neighboring Soundview community. The playground is best known for its 20′ x 40′ children’s mini pool, and also offers play areas and swings for tots and kids, along with a handball court, basketball court, and outdoor fitness equipment for adults. The playground was last renovated in 2020 through the Community Parks Initiative with updated play and adult fitness equipment, new swings, a basketball court, and new passive recreation features.