The Biggest Pipe Organ


The biggest pipe organ in the world is the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The organ has 28,482 pipes. These are set in 461 ranks. 

Comparison with the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ 

The Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey has 32,000 pipes. However, this pipe organ does not function. The Wannamaker Organ has over 90% of the pipes working, with the others being repaired. Moreover, the Wannamaker Organ has more ranks. It also weighs 287 tons, double that of the Boardwalk Hall Organ. 

Characteristics of the Wannamaker Organ

The biggest pipe organ is set in the 7 story court located at Macy’s Center City. The organ is played twice daily from Monday to Saturday. It is played more often during the Yuletide season. The organ is a feature in numerous concerts performed the whole year round. 

The organ console is made up of half a dozen manuals. These have an array of controls and stops that control the organ. The Wannamaker’s String Division is the biggest single organ chamber on the planet. 

This instrument has 88 ranks of string pipes. These were made by the W.W. Kimball Company. The organ is known primarily for its sound, which resembles an orchestra. This is possible because the pipes are voiced softly. 

Historical Background 

The biggest pipe organ in the world was constructed by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company. It was for the 1904 St. Louis’ World Fair. It was created to be the largest pipe organ in the world. Apart from the console, the organ was also built with a player that would punch rolls of paper. 

The architect George Ashdown Audsley designed the pipe organ. The project was completed at a cost of $105,000. The cost was $40,000 more than originally intended. The organ was purchased by John Wanamaker in 1909. It was under Wannamaker that the organ underwent expansion. Back then it had only 10,000 pipes. 

Other Large Pipe Organs 

The pipe organ at the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, California has 20,000 pipes. The total stops are 265 and the ranks are 346. It is the biggest church organ in the world. St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany has 17,774 pipes and 229 stops. It is the biggest pipe organ outside America. 

The USMA Cadet Chapel at West Point, New York has 20,142 pipes and 576 stops. The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California has 15,966 pipes and 284 stops. The Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City, Mexico has 15,633 pipes. 

Other large pipe organs are those at First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts (13,483 pipes), St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Church. Hanover, Pennsylvania (14,341 pipes) and St. Bartholomew's in New York City, New York (12,438 pipes). The pipe organ at the Riverside Church in New York City has 11,623 pipes. 

As the biggest pipe organ in the world, the Wannamaker organ has become something of a national treasure in the United States. Through such groups as the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, efforts are undertaken to preserve it. 

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