I work in downtown Miami, and I'd been wondering what this thing was, sitting on the fountain in Bayfront Park. So I dug up an article in the Miami Herald archives:
New York has the Empire State Building, Seattle the Space Needle. Now investors are weeks away from bringing Miami its own spot for a bird's-eye view of the city: a helium balloon floating 50 stories in the sky.
Workers inflated the 73-foot-tall Miami SkyLift Balloon last week at its permanent home atop the Bayfront Park fountain, where a steel cable will bring it up and down four times an hour.
About 30 people can ride the gondola as it climbs 500 feet into the air, an altitude near the top of the downtown skyline.
Already the SkyLift balloon looks like a giant Ping-Pong ball come to rest in Bayfront Park. But once the 15-minute rides begin in the next several weeks, the owners predict the spectacle of a white orb above the city will make SkyLift a must-do for vacationers. . . .
(Article by DOUGLAS HANKS, 9/14/07)
Apparently this has been in the works for years. (I also found a Miami Today article from 2005.) I just don't read the local papers anymore, much less subscribe to the Herald, as I used to. I was tired of getting my hands dirty, plus I get all the information I need these days over the Internet (including archived Herald articles).
Needless to say, I won't be going up in the balloon. That would be torture. [Note to George Bush: Threaten to put me in a balloon and I'll say anything you want.] I assume they've figured out how to secure it when a hurricane comes.
Tomorrow I'll take my own shot of the balloon sitting in the fountain. I think it looks cool. [Update: My picture inserted above. I took it this morning before getting to the office. I tried to take some shots when I got off work, but the lens was clouded over from the camera's sitting inside the dry A/C all day and then hitting the humidity outside. I would have waited around for the lens to clear up but my bus came along right away. I'll try again another day.]