The Night Heron was an invitation-only bar built illegally inside a Chelsea water tower in New York City that was open for just a few weekends this spring. Despite the arcane, timepiece-based invite process, Atlantic Cities and The New York Times both made it there. Here’s how a guest would find her way to this spot, according to Atlantic Cities:

The entrance tickets … are in the form of a pocket watch — which can only be obtained as a gift — with a reservation number and instructions inside advising against high heels and to be ready for a bit of climbing … After squeezing through a trap door, you are welcomed into a candlelit wooden cylinder outfitted with a bar, drink tables, and chandelier, all made from upright piano parts. You sip an aromatic amber concoction made by a dapper proprietor and survey this cedar jewel box, seemingly constructed by a pauper of exquisite taste.

Here’s what that felt like:

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free.


Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

All this was possible because, even in a city of gentrifying neighborhoods and investment, there are still building owners who don’t pay much attention to their property.The New York Times reports:

Mr. Austin located a suitable water tower by scouring Buildings Department records for violations with egregious scaffold fines. That can indicate a neglectful landlord, he said, which meant it might be a vacant building ripe for adopting as one’s own.

At Atlantic Cities, Dan Glass suggests that the project shares roots with urban exploration, but N.D. Austin, the organizer, has a different way of describing this project: “transgressive placemaking.” We call it an awesome way to have a few illicit drinks with friends and then break your neck getting back down.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.