Alton, IL

The World's Tallest Person in History Measured 8 Feet and 11 Inches

Andrei Tapalaga

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The tallest man in the world stands alongside his family, who are all of the average height and weightPaille/Flickr

The world’s general evolution focused very much on size. As time passed so did the size of various machines, buildings, and objects. Despite this, humans have stayed the same size, but in some rare cases giants have been born, and Robert Wadlow is the best definition of a real-life giant. 

In 1955, Wadlow had been declared by the Guinness World Records the tallest person in the world at the age of 17 when he measured a staggering 8 feet and 0.5 inches (2.45 meters). Although other people within our history in the past 2000 years have been mentioned in records to be much taller, there is no hard evidence to prove it, therefore Wadlow is considered the tallest in human history. 

Robert Wadlow was born on the 22nd of February, 1918. His parents were not giants, they were people of normal, better said average height for their age. With such a size came also great strength, Wadlow was able to pick up his father at the age of eight when fathers are supposed to pick up their children. 

He was raised in Alton, Illinois, a small city near St. Louis, Missouri. He had a good childhood where the small world tried to adapt in order to include Wadlow. Especially during his teenage years where his size became a barrier that didn’t allow him to be included in activities children his age were partaking in. 

At school special furniture had to be ordered in order for him to fit and at home, it was even a more difficult story as every piece of furniture from his bed to the bathtub he used had to be specially made for his size. 

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Robert Wadlow on tour with the International Shoe Company. Crowds of thousands would flock to Wadlow wherever he wentAlton Museum of History and Art

One of the single perks that came with his huge size was free shoes for life. The International Shoe company agreed to make Robert’s shoes due to their huge size and offer him free shoes for life in exchange for a promotional tour around the US with him. Within this promotional tour, Wadlow visited over 800 towns in 41 different states

By the time Wadlow reached his 20th Birthday, he was wearing size 37AA. Around that age, Wadlow's long feet started to go numb as if his legs were in a state of paralysis. This was not a big issue, but if he would get cut or have a blister he would not feel it which meant that there was a high chance for infection if not treated in time. 

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Robert Wadlow's shoe sized 37AA compared to a one-dollar billWorthPoint

The issue was that Wadlow’s body was not stopping growing which was affecting his health. The rare condition that made Wadlow so tall is named Pituitary Gigantism where the body keeps producing growth hormones without having the ability to stop. Medicine at the time was not advanced enough to stop the growth process. 

It was not long until Wadlow had to wear leg braces in order to sustain himself whilst walking. As he had almost no feeling in his legs, the braces caused blisters around his legs which soon became infected. Wadlow got very sick and by the time doctors realized what had happened it was too late. He passed at the young age of 22 on July 15, 1940

Before being buried, he was measured one last time, clocking in at 8 feet and 11.1 inches (2.72 meters). If it were not for the infection taking his life, other health complications would have occurred due to his non-stoping growth. Robert Wadlow shall be remembered as the tallest person in human history. 

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