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The Wanamaker Organ - The World's Largest Instrument?

Updated on February 12, 2011

Wanamaker Organ


Wanamaker Organ Has Competition

Is the Wanamaker Organ, a massive pipe organ in Philadelphia, the world's largest musical instrument?

If we're talking about fully functional man-made instruments, then this enormous instrument located in a 7-story court at Macy's Center City in Philadelphia may, indeed, be the winner. But it does have competitors for the title.

Who Deserves the Title of the World's Largest Instrument?

The Wanamaker Organ was built by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. When built, it had more than 10,000 pipes. It was later purchased by Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker, who installed it in his new Philadelphia emporium and increased its size even more. The organ was first played in the store's seven-story atrium on June 22, 1911, at the exact moment when England's King George V was crowned. Today the organ is played twice a day throughout the year, and more often during the Christmas season, as well as for special concerts.

The Wanamaker Organ has 28,500 pipes, which is quite impressive, but that's actually fewer pipes than the Boardwalk Hall organ located in Atlantic City, NJ. That behemoth boats 33,114 pipes. Built by the Midmer-Losh Organ Company, the Boardwalk Hall organ has been named the "Largest pipe organ ever constructed" by the Guinness Book of World Records. But it's not fully functional. Only a small percentage of the pipes actually work.

And there's another competitor for the title of the world's largest instrument, too. The Great Stalacpipe Organ is an instrument that uses specially chosen stalactites in the Luray Caverns in Virginia to produce tones. When keys are pressed on the console, electronic mallets wired throughout the caverns strike the stalactites to produce notes. The stalactites cover 3.5 acres of the caverns, arguably making this unusual creation the world's largest instrument.

So which one deserves the title of the World's Largest Instrument? You decide.

The Wanamaker Organ

The Great Stalacpipe Organ

Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ

Does the Wanamakers Organ Deserve the Title of World's Largest Instrument?

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