In 1983 Miami was still in its dark ages of Cocaine Cowboys, economic decline, high crime, and shrinking tourism when artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude took the town by storm, creating the famous Surrounded Islands. After more than two years of planning that began in 1981 they, along with hundreds of volunteers, unfurled pink polypropylene fabric 200 feet out over the surface of the water off eleven islands in Biscayne Bay. The 6.5 million square feet of fabric was held out over the water by booms the same color of the fabric itself, a bright, bold shade of pink.
On May 7th 1983, a few days after the unfurling began on 'Pink Day' the installation of Surrounded Islands was complete. They would be viewable by the public by boat, bridge, and plane, and make Miami an international art sensation, for two weeks before the gigantic temporary installation came to an end.
[Images via christoandjeanneclaude.net/André Grossmann/Wolfgang Volz]
According to Christo and Jeanne-Claude "The luminous pink color of the shiny fabric was in harmony with the tropical vegetation of the uninhabited verdant islands, the light of the Miami sky and the colors of the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay." Many observers, of course, just saw them as wonderfully big, pink lily pads seemingly floating down Biscayne Bay.
The Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives, a repository of historic video footage from across Florida, has preserved old news footage of Surrounded Islands. Do check out Surrounded Islands on their YouTube channel, here.