The World’s Largest Pipe Organ at Boardwalk Hall

Dec 10, 2015 1 comments

The historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the city’s most important convention center. All big events in Atlantic City are held there. The Boardwalk Hall has held sporting events (boxing, ice hokey, basketball, soccer, wrestling, figure skating, etc.), music concerts (featuring The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, to name a few), political rallies and is also the home of the Miss America Pageant. This self-contained entertainment facility occupies 7 acres of land and is equipped with its own direct electric power station, radio station, kitchens and telephone system. When the hall was opened in 1929, it was the largest enclosed free span arch in the world with trusses spanning 310 feet in width, a floor to ceiling height of 137 feet and a total interior length of 456 feet. Building the hall was an incredible feat of engineering.


The main console featuring seven manuals. Photo credit: Michael/Flickr

At the time the building was constructed, organs were provided as standard stage equipment for any entertainment facility, especially to accompany motion pictures because the technology for sound film had not arrived yet. In those times, an average theater could accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people. But Boardwalk Hall’s original seating capacity was 42,000. The enclosed space was almost 5.5 million cubic feet. To fill this immense volume of air with music represented an immense engineering and musical challenge.

The task of building the organ was given to Midmer-Losh Inc. of Merrick, Long Island, New York. What resulted was a giant of an instrument that broke every record in the 2,500 plus year history of the instrument. The Boardwalk Hall is now the proud owner of the largest pipe organ in the world, which is also the largest and the most powerful musical instrument on earth. Made of a staggering 33,000 pipes, this mammoth instrument can thunder into the 5.5 million cubic feet of air space in the main arena with a volume six times that of the loudest train whistle. To generate such ear-splitting sound, the organ utilizes 600 horsepower electric blowers that are capable of blowing 36,400 cubic feet of air per minute through the pipes, generating wind pressure up to 100 inches, or about 30 times that of a normal organ. The organ's main console is also the biggest in the world, with more than 1,200 stop tabs, and the only organ to have seven keyboards (called manuals). The organ took three years to build and was so large that it had to be constructed within the building. The tallest pipe measures 64 feet. It would have been impossible to construct the pipes elsewhere and move them into the building.

Unfortunately, the organ has not functioned fully since the great Atlantic hurricane of 1944, although it still continued to play for conventions, such as the Miss America Pageant, political rallies and sports events. Extended years of disuse had deteriorated the organ so much that only 15-20% of the instrument was playable. The organ was further damaged when careless workmen renovating the hall during 2000-2001 removed, bent and crushed several pipes. The organ is now undergoing restoration. The restoration work is expected to take another 8 years at least.


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Photo credit: Michael/Flickr


British Organist Reginald Foort at the console. Photo credit:


Gallery IV pipe ranks (left). A thoughtful tech among the pipes (right). Photo credit:


An offset chest (left). The 64-foot tall boys (right). Photo credit:


Photo credit: Michael/Flickr


Photo credit: Jazz Guy/Flickr


Photo credit: Jazz Guy/Flickr


Pipes of the organ. Photo credit: Jazz Guy/Flickr


Pipes of the organ. Photo credit: Jazz Guy/Flickr


This room operates under pressure when the organ is operating. It is one of the vast relay rooms. all the electrical signals from the console come to these rooms. Photo credit: Jazz Guy/Flickr


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Sources: / Wikipedia


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