Geek Trivia

The Largest Working Musical Instrument In The World Is Located In?

Moscow
Philidelphia
London
Berlin
In The Late 19th Century People Put Out Home Fires With?

Answer: Philadelphia

If you’re looking for the world’s largest working musical instrument, you first need to travel to the U.S. city of Philadelphia, then you need to take a cab through the downtown area to Market St. and hop out on the thirteen hundred block, and finally you need to walk into… Macy’s department store.

There, in the seven-story court of the spacious department store, you’ll find the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ (named after the original store as the current Macy’s location was formerly Wanamaker’s) which is a musical instrument so massive that it sprawls, hidden from the shoppers, through multiple floors of the department store. While many people think of the organ as the organist’s console and the massive wall of pipes located on a second floor balcony, that’s an illusion: the console actually controls the organ but the pipes most visible to shoppers below are just for show because people expect to see pipes in front of an organ.

The actual pipes are so big and so numerous they are located throughout the levels of the building and feed into the main court. All told the organ has 28,677 individual pipes spread across 469 ranks (ranks, in organ lingo, are sets of pipes which produce the same timbre of a note). The string division of the Wanamaker organ alone constitutes the single largest organ chamber in the world.

(Note: Wikipedia lists the organ as having 28,604 pipes in 463 ranks).

The entire organ is so large and such a complex instrument that not only is there a dedicated organ master whose sole job it is to play the organ, there is also a dedicated team of curators who maintain the organ, service it, fashion replacement parts, and ensure that the century old instrument is in the best shape of its life.

In fact, we really can’t do justice to the organ by simply describing how big it is. We’d strongly encourage you to check out this fantastic five minute video from the Philadelphia Daily News wherein they tour the entire organ structure from console to repair shop. The Wanamaker Organ is truly a wonder of design and a worthy Philadelphia city landmark.

Image courtesy of the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ