New York has a long history of hidden and illicit venues – one that did not stop when prohibition was lifted. There is the innocuous pizza shop where dialing the right number in their phone booth lets you through a secret door into the pub. Or the various hole-in-the-wall places where you add your number to a wait list and hope for a call.
And then this, the now-defunct bar inside an abandoned water tower in Chelsea, requiring one to following a winding path up through a deserted building to find a surprise at the top.
Per the New York Times (images by Benjamin Norman), “The Night Heron was an invitation-only nightclub held illegally in a water tower atop a vacant building in Chelsea.” Guests had to make their way through a deserted building, then climb up a ladder to reach their destination.
All-nighters were common for this bustling little sweet spot, with last guests being let in as late as three in the morning. Live music reverberated within the wooden slats of the tightly-packed circular interior, with bottles of whisky reinforcing the retro (albeit a bit hipster) vibe of the whole affair. Alas, all good things must come to an end – particularly when they are a little less than legal in the first place.