The History of Burning Man

An in-depth look at the history of Burning Man, from its early roots, to today’s gathering.



A look at the events and ideology that lead to the first Burn on Baker Beach in San Francisco, and the early Burning Man Culture. Including the arts movement in San Francisco of the time, the Suicide Club and Cacophony Society and the people involved in creating Burning Man.


The People of Burning Man

A look at the many individuals who contributed to the birth and growth of Burning Man, including its founders, Larry Harvey, John Law and Michael Mikel, but also including the other colorful people who impacted the event.


Baker Beach Years (1986 to 1990)

Four years the Man rose above Baker Beach, with each of the first three ending in its immolation, but on the fourth it survived. The story of the first four Burning Man gatherings on Baker Beach.


Early Years on the Playa (1990 to 1992)

From 80 or so people from the Cacophony Society in 1990 to 8,000 people in 1996, Burning Man underwent rapid changes. These years were jeans and t-shirts, driving fast in the desert, and few rules (and a lot of fire).


Art Arrives on the Playa (1993 to 1995)

Burning Man began to morph from a Cacophony event to a small town, with infrastructure, and a burgeoning art presence, driven by the influence of Desert Siteworks, and in influx of Art Cars spurred by Harrod Blank.


Growing Pains (1996 to 1999)

1996 marked an inflection point for Burning Man. John Law, who had been instrumental in shaping the event, left the organization; Michael Furey died during the pre-build; and Wired Magazine did a cover story on the event. In the following years, Larry Harvey executed on his vision for the event, moving from a Cacophony-focused gathering toward the model that remains in place today.


Playa (2000 to 2010)

(Coming soon)


Playa (2010 to 2015)

(Coming Soon)


Playa (2016 to 2019)

(Coming Soon)