Giant Cowboy boots.
Big Boots at the mall.

World's Largest Cowboy Boots

Field review by the editors.

San Antonio, Texas

Bob "Daddy-O" Wade (1943-2019) was a Texas pioneer of cowboy funk art, inspired by giant roadside statues and the sprawling scale of his home state. In 1979 he was 36 years old, and had just become famous for installing his giant Lone Star Iguana on a rooftop 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.

Cowboy Boots, Washington DC, 1979.
Cowboy Boots, Washington, DC, late 1979.

Bob measured the lot, then created an artwork to fill the space: a pair of humongous fake ostrich-and-calf-skin cowboy boots 35 feet tall and 33 feet long. It took him six weeks, and he was paid $7,000. The boots, mostly made with junk materials that Bob had scavenged, were completed on September 12, 1979.

Giant cowboy boots.

Washington political reporters were fascinated with the boots' potential to stomp big things. Bob cheerfully claimed that each could hold 300,000 gallons of beer, and promoted them as the World's Largest even though he had no idea if that was actually true. "In those days there weren't any books or resources like Roadside America," Bob told us. "I wouldn't have believed there was a pair any bigger."

(The Hat n' Boots in Seattle are slightly smaller, but claim to be the world's largest matched set of cowboy wear.)

The boots stood in DC for less than four months. They were then bought by the North Star Mall in San Antonio, and trucked to Texas. The boots were so big, said Bob, that the drivers had to take back roads to avoid the cops. One was slightly creased when it wedged beneath an overpass; it had to be freed with a crowbar. But both boots still arrived at the mall in relatively good shape, and Bob re-erected them there on January 16, 1980.

"Back then it was kind of a ratty mall," Bob told us, "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 40+ years the formerly ratty mall has gone upscale, but, surprisingly, the boots have remained and become better-looking with age. Bob never ceased to be amazed by their enduring appeal. "The mall owners have just been sweethearts," he told us. "They spent 80 grand in 2012 just to redo the tops of those boots. That's insane."

Also see: Hat n' Boots | Roadside Art of Daddy-O

World's Largest Cowboy Boots

North Star Mall

Address:
7400 San Pedro Ave., San Antonio, TX
Directions:
North Star Mall. South side of I-410. Exits 20B (driving west) or 20 (driving east). Drive along the one-way eastbound frontage road (on the south side of I-410).
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Monster Mini GolfMonster Mini Golf, San Antonio, TX - 2 mi.
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The GrottoThe Grotto, San Antonio, TX - 6 mi.
In the region:
The Line in the Sand, Bronzed, San Antonio, TX - 7 mi.

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December 4, 2020

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