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The Wanamaker Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument

A Philadelphia treasure, get a glimpse inside The Wanamaker Organ, a 7-story-high, 287 ton, 28,677 pipe instrument located inside the Macy’s (formerly Wanamaker’s) at 13th and Market. The pipe organ is the world’s largest functioning musical instrument, built by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. From Wikipedia:

Wild cost overruns plagued the project… finished at a cost of $105,000 (equal to $2,756,056 today), $40,000 over budget, equal to $1,049,926 today… Following the Fair, the organ was intended for permanent installation by the Kansas City Convention Center… This venture failed, bankrupting the L. A. Art Organ company after the Fair closed… The organ languished in storage at the Handlan warehouse in St. Louis until 1909, when it was bought by John Wanamaker… It took thirteen freight cars to move it to its new home, and two years for installation.

More pipes were added at Wanamakers during organ expansion projects in 1911 and 1924. Check out the list of this organ’s stops, those buttons on the left and right that control the sounds/wind flow through the organ.

Read more at Smithsonian Magazine: The Sound and Fury of Philadelphia’s Wanamaker Organ.

In the archives, see The World’s Largest Tuba, The Octobass, and a homemade pipe organ: The Emphatic Chromatic Callioforte.

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