Foto Friday: The World’s Tallest Man

Alton, Illinois boasts an interesting claim to fame. Not only is it the Most Haunted Town in America and birthplace of Miles Davis, it was also home to the World’s Tallest Man.

Robert Wadlow Worlds Tallest Man

Robert Pershing Wadlow was born in Alton and is the tallest man ever known to have lived. One of the town’s most popular landmarks is a life-sized statue in his honour that stands in a park opposite the Alton History & Art Museum (which sports the intriguingly ominous tagline “History outlives those who would destroy it.”)

Having an abnormality of the pituitary gland, Robert Wadlow never stopped growing. By the age of four he was already taller than I am! Just before his death from an infected blister at age 22, Robert was measured at a hair taller than 8 feet, 11 inches.

His world record as the tallest man still stands today, in part because medical science has since developed treatments for such conditions.

A Nerd at Large Robert Wadlow giant chair

Also at the site is a replica of Robert’s chair that a furniture company made specially for him. Every giant knows it’s important to have a comfortable chair to curl up in, amirite?

Disclosure and acknowledgements: On this trip I was a guest of the Illinois Office of Tourism. Many thanks to Steven Glynias for snapping the photos.

6 Comments

    1. Thanks Ruth! I love stuff like this. For reference, I am 5’3″ (and a half!) I forgot to mention it in the post, but the statue is to scale!

    1. Yes, he was a very big deal in life as well as in posterity. During his lifetime he occasionally toured with the Ringling Bros. circus and he was a well-known public figure. Alton continues to take pride in him. When I arrived in town I was presented with a World’s Tallest Man t-shirt! Thanks for stopping by, Brad.

  1. Wow, I had read about him before, but hadn’t realized he was SO tall. That statue! Though it’s so sad that he died at such a young age.

    1. I cannot imagine being that tall! Not that I come anywhere close. He wore something like a size 35 shoe, that obviously had to be custom made.

      It is sad that he died young, especially for such a mundane reason. His legs required metal braces and one of them chaffed his ankle and caused a blister that got infected and killed him. I wonder how tall he would have grown to be if he had lived.

      Thanks for your comment!

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