Does Philadelphia or Atlantic City have the largest pipe organ?

    In separate articles we’ve called the Wanamaker pipe organ and the organ in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall the “largest” in the world. So, which one is it? Turns out — it’s both.

    An article from WHYY’s Mary Cummings-Jordan that ran on Monday referred to the Midmer-Losh organ as the biggest in the world.

    Savvy readers may remember an earlier article about the Wanamaker Organ at Macy’s in Center City Philadelphia — in which WHYY’s Peter Crimmins refers to it as “the largest musical instrument in the world.”

    One such reader, David, wrote in to ask us which was bigger.

    We looked into the question and found a list from theatreorgans.com of the largest pipe organs in the world ranked by the number of ranks. (A rank is a set of pipes used in a particular “tone color,” one for each note of the manual and pedal keyboards.)

    A foot note goes into some detail. The Wanamaker instrument has more ranks, but the Atlantic City instrument has more pipes overall — by a lot. However, experts are reluctant to call the Boardwalk Hall organ the largest, because it has suffered flood damage, parts of it are closed off because of asbestos, and it has never been 100 percent operational.

    In conclusion, both organs can be listed as “largest” on technicalities, but Wanamaker’s wins out as an operational instrument. If the Boardwalk Hall pipe organ is ever restored to full power, it will once again tower over the competition.

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