48ºF

12 interesting facts, history behind SA’s iconic ‘World’s Largest Boots’ sculpture and artist


SAN ANTONIO – They are iconic and larger than life. The World’s Largest Cowboy Boots just celebrated their 40th anniversary at North Star Mall. Here are 12 interesting facts about the sculpture.

1. The “World’s Largest Cowboy Boots” sculpture stands an impressive 35-feet, three inches tall. It is 30-feet long, nine–feet wide and weighs 10,000 pounds.

2. Austin-born artist Bob “Daddy O” Wade was 36 years old when he was contacted in 1979 by the Washington Project for the Arts out of Washington, D.C. to create a Texas-themed sculpture to be featured in an empty lot near the White House.

(Vintage images of World's Largest Cowboy Boots at North Star Mall and its artist, Bob Wade.)
(Vintage images of World's Largest Cowboy Boots at North Star Mall and its artist, Bob Wade.) (KSAT)

3. The boots became an immediate attraction and a bidding war ensued to bring them to Texas. The Rouse Company owned North Star at the time.

“The company that owned North Star Mall actually ended up in a bidding war between a couple other properties in Texas because everybody wanted these booths at their location. We won and we were able to purchase them for $20,000,” said Brenda Crawford, Senior General Manager at North Star Mall.

(Image of World's Largest Cowboys Boots and artist Bob Wade in Washington, D.C.)
(Image of World's Largest Cowboys Boots and artist Bob Wade in Washington, D.C.) (KSAT)

4. Getting them to San Antonio was a tall task. They became stuck under an overpass so drivers had to take all back roads to North Star.

5. Wade created a song about the ordeal entitled “Too High, Too Wide and Too Long.” A documentary with the same name, that was about Wade, was released in 1999.

(Vintage images of World's Largest Cowboy Boots at North Star Mall and its artist, Bob Wade.)
(Vintage images of World's Largest Cowboy Boots at North Star Mall and its artist, Bob Wade.) (KSAT)

6. The boots officially arrived in San Antonio in January of 1980.

“On Jan. 16, about 40 years ago, they came to rest here and they’ve been here ever since,” said Crawford.

7. The boots are in the Guiness Book of World Records and a popular location to take a picture. They have been used in commercials and national campaigns to highlight the city.

“There’s great love for them,” said Crawford. “A lot of people have stories about them. Some people propose to their wife in front of them. A lot of people take photos of them when they’re traveling.”

(Image of World's Largest Cowboys Boots and artist Bob Wade in Washington, D.C.)
(Image of World's Largest Cowboys Boots and artist Bob Wade in Washington, D.C.) (KSAT)

8. The boots are made of tubular steel sprayed with polyurethane foam. Wade claimed each boot could hold upwards of 300,000 gallons of beer just in case anyone was inclined to fill them.

“One of the things that he said about the boots is they would hold 300,000 gallons of beer. We haven’t tried it and I don’t know if Bob drank that much beer, but with that kind of sums up who Bob is,” said Crawford.

(Vintage images of World's Largest Cowboy Boots at North Star Mall and its artist, Bob Wade.)
(Vintage images of World's Largest Cowboy Boots at North Star Mall and its artist, Bob Wade.) (KSAT)

9. Wade is known for several other giant creations, including a 40-foot long iguana that sits atop the Ft. Worth Zoo. Wade also created the dancing frogs on the roof of a Taco Cabana in Dallas and a 70-foot high saxophone in Houston.

10. The only thing bigger than Wade’s sculptures was his larger than life personality. His nickname evolved during his high school years in El Paso due to his slicked back hair, a ’51 hotrod and El Paso style.

(Image of World's Largest Cowboys Boots and artist Bob Wade in Washington, D.C.)
(Image of World's Largest Cowboys Boots and artist Bob Wade in Washington, D.C.) (KSAT)

11. Wade graduated from UT-Austin and then earned a Masters in Painting from the University of California at Berkeley. He taught classes across the state.

12. Wade died in December at 76. His legacy lives on with his sculptures and his love for all things Texas, but he told several people the boots were his favorite.

“I think in Bob’s heart, he’s a Texan. He was born in Austin. He lived in San Antonio for a while,” said Crawford. “I think that the boots represent Texas.”

(Vintage images of World's Largest Cowboy Boots at North Star Mall and its artist, Bob Wade.)
(Vintage images of World's Largest Cowboy Boots at North Star Mall and its artist, Bob Wade.) (KSAT)

About the Authors: