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Wadlow shoes.

Robert Wadlow Shoes

Field review by the editors.

Des Plaines, Illinois

Although Robert Wadlow died in 1940, he remains the Tallest Man ever measured, nearly nine feet high. For someone so big, surprisingly few of his personal items have survived, because most of them were destroyed by his Mom after he died.

And yet a surprising number of Robert Wadlow shoes can still be seen across America. But that's because Robert Wadlow never wore them. One of his jobs was as a roving ambassador for the Peters Shoe Company. He would arrive in a town, give the local shoe store a promotional size 37 shoe, then move on. Because he continued to grow throughout his life, Robert's final shoe size was actually 44.5.

Most of those Wadlow-shoe stores are long out of business, and their shoes ended up in places like Ripley Believe it or Not! franchise museums. What makes the Wadlow shoes at the Square Deal Shoe Store special are that they are a matched pair, not a single shoe, and they are size 26, not size 37 -- which means that Robert Wadlow actually wore them. According to the shoe shop, they were custom-made by the original owners for Wadlow when he was a teenager.

The store also displays an old Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope, a WWII-era shoe shop device that enabled customers to see live x-rays beamed through their feet. They've been disabled by law since 1970.

Robert Wadlow Shoes

Square Deal Shoe Store

1516 Miner St., Des Plaines, IL
Square Deal Shoe Store. Downtown, on Miner St./US 14, north side, two blocks east of US 12/45.
Store hours. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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In the region:
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