The Big Shoe is a novelty architecture building shaped like shoe in Bakersfield, California. Or rather it is a building shaped like a shoe from the 1940’s, which puts it perfectly in line with the 1947 construction of this white low-top building. The 30ft long and 20ft high plaster and wood shoe started its life as Deschwanden’s Shoe Repair shop. While there are other giant shoes in California and throughout the United States, this is the only one known to have a shoelace.
In 1992 when the owner passed away, the shop turned into an attraction. It was because of his will that there have only been shoe repair businesses in the location as it was stated that the building could only be rented to a shoe related business and its size limited what could be done inside the property. For many years in the 90’s the building sat vacant with only unclaimed shoes in the window to let passersby know of the previous life.
In 1997 a car collided with the giant shoe causing severe damage but the owner decided it was an important enough part of Bakersfield’s history that it needed to be repaired instead of demolished. The house behind the giant shoe and the shoe itself were put on the market in 2000 by the Deschwanden family and the new owner agreed in keeping the tradition alive by only renting to shoe related businesses. Once again (since 2003) you can have your shoes repaired in a building shaped like a giant shoe. Known now as Big Shoe Repair, the building will hopefully be taking care of Bakersfield’s cobbling needs for generations to come.
Big Shoe Facts
- The Big Shoe is 20 feet tall, 30 feet long and has a 50 foot long black shoelace.
- The lower portion of the building below the shoe has been several colors throughout its life but the shoe has always been white with a black sole.
- The Big Shoe is located at 931 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, California.
- Deschwanden’s shoe repair opened at the site in 1947.
- The Deschwanden family lived in the house directly behind the giant shoe for more 45 years.
- Chester Avenue was once a main drag for late night cruising in Bakersfield.
- Stop your car and take a picture. Then leave. That’s pretty much all there is in the neighborhood.
- If your car breaks down in Bakersfield you may find yourself living there for several years.
- Bakersfield has a surprising number of Basque restaurants that are worth the stop alone.
- Bakersfield is a pretty good spot to see live music and local bands are always playing somewhere.
- It really is as hot as they say it is. Drink lots of water and be prepared.