World's Largest Cowboy Boots
San Antonio, Texas
In 1979 artist Bob "Daddy-O" Wade had just become famous for installing his giant Lone Star Iguana in New York City. Tastemakers in Washington, DC, coveted some Texas style of their own, so Bob was invited to build something just as big in an empty lot in the nation's capital.
Bob built a pair of boots, 40 feet tall and 30 feet long, to fill the space. They were promoted as the World's Largest Cowboy Boots, even though they were probably not. "In those days there weren't any books or web sites like yours," Bob said. "I wouldn't have believed there was a pair any bigger."
After a year the boots left DC and moved to the North Star Mall in San Antonio. "Back then it was kind of a ratty mall," said Bob, "and one day they called me and said, 'Mr. Wade, your boots are on fire.'" They were not; it turned out that a homeless man was living in one of the boots, cooking his dinner with Sterno, and using the neck of the boot as his smoky chimney. "I don't know how long the guy had been in there, but they probably should have left him," said Bob. "It would've been a great attraction."
In the past thirty years the mall has gone upscale but, surprisingly, the boots have remained. They now stand outside a Saks Fifth Avenue store. "They've just been sweethearts," said Bob of the mall owners. "They spent 80 grand in 2012 just to redo the tops of those boots. That's insane."