FiDi Fan Page’s Luis Vazquez-Willhelm on His Six Favorite Places Downtown

03/11/2024 in
FiDi Fan Page’s Luis Vazquez-Willhelm on His Six Favorite Places Downtown

Local news heads know: FiDi Fan Page is the best. The long-running Facebook page is the go-to publication for Lower Manhattan denizens, offering up everything from the latest restaurant openings to local news hits to scoops about what’s coming to the neighborhood. The page has also become a vital community resource, and has helped make Lower Manhattan one of the best places in the city to live, work and play.

All this is due to the tireless work of Luis Vazquez-Willhelm, who launched FiDi Fan Page in 2011. Luis, who moved to Lower Manhattan with his husband in 2007, decided to start the page in an effort to spread some positivity about the neighborhood, which he loved and felt wasn’t getting its due share in traditional media.

“I was tired hearing all of the negativity in the press, specifically about the World Trade Center and how long it was taking,” he said. “And while they were doing it, they were ignoring all of the other positive things that were happening around.”

In the years since then, Lower Manhattan has become a true 24/7 neighborhood, and FiDi Fan Page has amassed an impressive following, cementing Luis’s status as a downtown icon. (And the most in-the-know person in Lower Manhattan — he scoops us all the time!) We caught up with him to find out about his favorite spots in Lower Manhattan. Read below! 

The Battery

Springtime blooms in Battery Park

One of the biggest surprises down here is just the access to the waterfront, how beautiful that is. It’s not just one river – you have three different dimensions: the East River, the Hudson and the Bay, and all three offer different horizons and perspectives. I have a dog named Fiesta  and we get out usually about two hours a day, and I take different routes. But in the end we always wind up in the Battery. That’s where she wants to go. In the summer months, they have off-leash privileges, so I spend a lot of time there, and it’s beautiful. The combination of the horticulture, the history, the vistas and the fountain make every visit unique. The carousel is awesome and the people-watching is great.  I also want to make clear [that it was] Warrie Price and the [Battery] Conservancy [who brought] that back. There was a time when it wasn’t what it is today and she is to thank for that. (Battery Place, State and Whitehall streets)

The Tin Building

T. Brasserie at the Tin Building (photo: Nicole Franzen)

It is beautiful, and it offers so many options. It has preserved a piece of the past, but repurposed it to fit today’s reality. People were commenting about how they were tearing down the original Tin Building, but they forget that only ten percent of the “original” Tin Building was original by the time they took it down. So by taking it apart, saving what could be salvaged and repurposing it to something that serves, not just the tourist community, but frankly the local neighborhood, they did a great thing. I just had dinner there the other night. I love it, and when we have people from out of town, that’s the first place that we go to for dinner. (96 South St. at Pier 17)

IPIC Fulton Market and Alamo Drafthouse Downtown

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown (photo: Michael Mansfield)

In an era where fewer people go to the movies, when you do go to the movies, I want it to be a special event. From a luxury standpoint, [IPIC] is number one, I absolutely love it. Alamo Drafthouse is more casual, but also really fun. They have a much more eclectic program of films that they show, and I love that they’re both within a five-minute walk of my front door. (IPIC Fulton Market at 11 Fulton St.; Alamo Drafthouse Downtown at 28 Liberty St.)

The Oculus

Inside the Oculus (photo: Mark Weinberg)

Again, it is just an architectural marvel. The design is unique. I think Paul Goldberger called it a stegosaurus or something like that. I think what they created is  brilliant — yes, it’s a mall, it’s a train station, it’s also a shopping center, and it’s also an architectural statement. It is something that is known worldwide and I just think we’re so incredibly fortunate to have something like that. (185 Greenwich St.)



I’m going to my first performance next week. I already know I’m gonna love it because I know so much about it already, but I have had dinner at Metropolis. Metropolis is my favorite new restaurant. If you haven’t yet been, I strongly urge you to go. It’s beautiful, it’s larger than I expected it to be, the staff is great and the food is astounding. (251 Fulton St.)

Winter Garden at Brookfield Place

Pride 2022 at Brookfield Place

Alright so, I joke that Battery Park City is the Financial District because it was built on land that was taken from the World Trade Center site, so since it’s on FiDi land…… it’s FiDi. But all kidding aside, it’s just another beautiful architectural statement from the 80s. I think it’s the world’s largest indoor grove of palm trees in the world.  I don’t know if you know, but they actually have I think two separate groves of palms out in Arizona, so that if one of the trees dies or gets sick, they can swap them out for ones of the exact same size . By the way, it works the same way for all the trees at the World Trade Center Memorial. There’s a facility on Long Island and a facility in New Jersey that have similar sized trees. In the event of a big storm or a few trees die, where do they get the same sized ones? They have them growing elsewhere. (230 Vesey St.)

main photo: courtesy Luis Vazquez-Willhelm

Tags: feature, fidi fan page

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