Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man, dies at 70
He didn’t just found a festival. He started a movement which now spans six continents.
Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man, passed away peacefully at 70 years old in San Francisco on April 28, following a stroke earlier in the month. As a carpenter, artist, and philanthropist—among many other things—Harvey is most well-known for inspiring the community-based weeklong event Burning Man, which happens in Nevada at the end of each summer.
Known to fellow Burners as “the Man in the Hat” for his iconic white Stetson hat, Harvey set an international movement in motion in the summer of 1986 when he and friend Jerry James organized the burning of a wooden effigy on San Francisco’s Baker Beach. After San Francisco officials forced the event to relocate in 1990, Larry Harvey teamed up with the city’s Cacophony Society (i.e. “a randomly gathered network of free spirits…”) to bring the effigy to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The festival has since grown into an annual gathering of more than 70,000 people and inspires year-round regional events organized by the Burner community across six continents.
Each year Black Rock City is built, burned and disappears into the dust as though thousands of people had never set foot there before. The original reason for the inaugural burn has never been confirmed. Though many theories have been put forward, those who knew Harvey best say that he preferred Burners find their own meaning in the experience.
The Burning Man community is best described by Larry Harvey’s Ten Principles, a guiding philosophy rooted in radical inclusion, gifting, and communal effort, among other values.
Harvey is survived by his son Tristan, his brother Stewart and his nephew Bryan.