Inside the NYC Water Tower Speakeasy

May 24, 2013 | Tod Seelie

In a vacant New York City water tower, four experience designers created a modern speakeasy called the Night Heron. It was only open for an eight week run, each night risking arrest — the owner of the building never knew of the bar’s presence. Guests were led on a trespass journey through a series of vacant office buildings, up into the skyline, and through a tight trap door. Inside the water tower, the tables and bar were made from scavenged piano parts. Whiskey was the sole liquor.

Attending the Night Heron was possible only as a gift, pre-paid by a previous guest, and passed to you in the form of a pocket watch that was your entrance token. The resulting crowd spanned all demographics. “People sent their closest (and often to us, least likely) friends in personal acts of trust and generosity,” said Myric Lehner, one of the entrance guides. “We made a bar for an aircraft mechanic and the president of Heineken, for broke, wide-eyed students and rock stars.” (Text by N.D. Austin, Photos: Tod Seelie/ANIMALNewYork)