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Alton, Illinois

Robert Wadlow Statue

The world's tallest man was 8 feet 11 inches when he died—and still growing. 

Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in the world on record, was 8 feet 11 inches when he died. A life-size statue of him in his hometown of Alton, Illinois allows pedestrians to see how they stack up against the “Alton Giant.”

A hyperplasia of his pituitary gland caused Wadlow to grow to such an enormous height. His unique height afforded him an unconventional life. He briefly toured with the Ringling Brothers Circus and was once a spokesperson for a shoe company. He was also a Master Freemason—his ring was the largest the society has ever created.

Sadly, Wadlow died in 1940 at the young age of 22. An infected blister on his foot caused him to receive an emergency blood transfusion, which his body rejected due to an autoimmune disease. Even in the adult years before his death, his growth showed no signs of slowing.