For the first three years of Burning Man, the festival was held on San Francisco's Baker Beach. By 1989, however, Golden Gate Park Police had learned of the event and prohibited any actual burning. The event was a fire hazard, they said.
In 1990, Harvey and James decided to relocate to the second-largest and flattest piece of land in the US: Nevada's Black Rock Desert. At first, people didn't really know what to do once they got there. Some found hot springs. Others played music. But by the end, the 40-foot statue still burned.
By 1997, the secret of Burning Man was out. Wired called it the "New American Holiday" and CNN dubbed it "the world's most dangerous art festival."
After the 10-year mark, the festival began to take on its familiar aesthetic. Attendance swelled to more than 10,000 and onlookers began referring to Burning Man as a cross between Woodstock and "Mad Max."
As the 1990s came to a close, organizers created their now-iconic "Wheel of Time" camp layout. It was divided into streets and eight sections based on the planets. It was artistic, but also allowed emergency vehicles to locate "addresses" in case of emergency.
Only pre-approved "art cars," handled by the so-called Department of Mutant Vehicles, were allowed on the grounds. As a result, bikes took over.
The 54-foot-tall Burning Man sculpture had reached roughly half the height it'd be at the 2014 festival. With 23,000 visitors, attendance figures were still a third of what they'd become.
Political ideals continued to infuse the festival's visitors in the new millennium. For instance, burners erected an exhibit featuring President Bush with the word "LIAR" tacked on his chest.
The early 2000s also welcomed an influx of new attendees. From 2000 to 2005, an additional 10,000 new people from all over the world flocked to Black Rock City.
It got big.
Like, really big.
As part of the festival's goal to "leave no trace," however, the burners are mindful to clean up any messes they make. The grounds are nearly invisible by the last day.
Within the last five years, Burning Man has become a combination rave, art show, and campground. Here, attendees at the "Distrikt" sound and music camp stay cool in the heat.
The structures have gotten downright huge. Take the Temple of Transition from 2011, which celebrates the impermanence of life.
People gathered inside to chant and share in the experience of being at the festival, whatever that meant to them.
Like the man himself, the Temple of Transition came down in flames by the festival's end. Firefighters were on hand to monitor the spectacle.
The festival has also added more physical events. In 2012, organizers held bare-knuckle fights in an arena called the Thunder Dome.
For many attendees, though, Burning Man signifies a retreat to simplicity and escape to freedom. They can express themselves in ways modern society usually stigmatizes.
Alexandra Aguilera, who goes by the playa name "Crazy Rouge," came to Burning Man for the first time in 2013. She left her home in Hong Kong to see what magic Black Rock City held.
The virtues of community and cooperation live on. At the 2015 Burning Man, which saw nearly 68,000 people in attendance, members of the camp More Carrot provide burners with fruits and vegetables.
With time, Burning Man has also become more kid-friendly. Entire families sometimes visit the festival.
But even big kids need to express themselves.
The festival is still as dusty as ever. Any burner will testify that a wall of white sand gets swept through the desert. Now that the man stands 80 feet and higher, it's at least partially visible through the clouds.
By 2016, Burning Man's fashion had evolved into a true mishmash of styles. People dressed in clown costumes, unicorn horns, steampunk getups, and sometimes nothing at all, all converge for the same event.
The festival's charm has been infectious: Satellite Burning Man events have spread to dozens of US cities and several countries, including France, Sweden, and Israel. It's truly an international phenomenon.
And it all started with an eight-foot statue made from scrap wood.