Visiting Philly’s Wanamaker Organ: The Largest, Functional Pipe Organ in the World

Please do your best to limit your travels around PA during this time. If you decide to travel, please check the status of the places you are going. Some places around the state are temporarily closed or have changed their hours. We will not be updating individual articles to note these changes. Stay safe and wear a mask!

Philly is known for many things, but few seem to know that it’s home to the largest, functional pipe organ in the world. And while you would expect this to be in a beautiful, large cathedral, like the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul for example, you’d never expect it to be located where it is. In fact, if you didn’t know where to look, you could walk right by the building every day of your life and never know it was there.

That’s because this beautiful instrument is located in the center court of a downtown department store.

That’s right, the Wanamaker Organ is located inside of the Wanamaker building across the street from Philadelphia’s City Hall. While this building was once home to the Wanamaker Department Store, it is now home to Macy’s Center City.

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something at no additional cost to you.
Wanamaker Organ concerts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A close look at the Wanamaker Organ.

The organ was built for the 1904 Saint Louis World’s Fair and was the largest organ ever built at the time. After the fair was over, several deals fell through for the organ. However, in 1909, John Wanamaker purchased it for his new department store in downtown Philadelphia.

After purchasing the organ, it took two years to install in the building. However, once installed, Wanamaker decided that the organ was too small, and started on an ambitious project to enlarge the organ, which included him building an on-site pipe factory. By 1930, the organ had been expanded from its original 10,000 pipes to more than 28,000.

Looking into the Wanamaker Building's atrium at the Wanamaker Organ's pipes.
Looking into the Wanamaker Building’s atrium at the Wanamaker Organ’s pipes.

Standing on the ground level atrium of the Wanamaker Building, the Wanamaker organ and its massive pipes are an incredibly impressive sight. However, listening to it play is something that has to be heard in person to be believed. I’m personally not a huge fan of organ music; however, the sound of the Wanamaker Organ is breathtaking.

Concerts are put on Monday to Saturday at noon. There is also a second concert on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 5:30pm. And, on Wednesdays and Fridays, they hold a second concert at 7pm. These 45-minute concerts feature a wide variety of music, all performed on one of the most beautiful sounding instruments in the world. Truthfully, it’s a bit awkward to stand in the middle of a department store, the Wanamaker Organ location, while listening to a concert, but it’s worth it without a doubt.

Christmas at the Wanamaker Organ in Philly.
Macy’s and the Wanamaker Organ all dressed up for Christmas.

Wanamaker Organ tours are also available by appointment.

The most popular time to visit the Wanamaker Organ is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. During the holiday season, Macy’s puts on their Christmas Light Show. While the show doesn’t seem to have changed much since it was introduced in 1956, the quaintness of the show is charming. Sure, it might not be as high-tech and flashy as the nearby Comcast Holiday Spectacular, but it’s still worth checking out the holiday show.

The Christmas Light Show inside the Wanamaker Building is one of Philly's best Christmas traditions.
The Christmas Light Show inside the Wanamaker Building is one of Philly’s best Christmas traditions.

The show occurs every even hour between 10am and 8pm, seven days a week. However, if you can, visit during the noon show, as it is immediately followed by a live concert featuring Christmas music performed on the live organ. When I visited, the powerful reverberation of the organ during “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” was especially beautiful.

No matter what season, though, the Wanamaker Organ is a Philadelphia icon worth experiencing. So, the next time you are in Philly, pop into Macy’s Department Store, not to shop, but to listen to the beautiful sounds of one of the world’s premier instruments.

Click here to see our full list of completely free things to do in Philly!

Wanamaker Organ

Concerts: Monday-Saturday: 12pm
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 5:30pm
Wednesday and Friday 7pm

Cost: Free


Address: 1300 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107


See map for other area attractions.

Great places to stay in Philadelphia

Click the map to see more nearby things to do

Philadelphia Travel Map"

More nearby places worth exploring

Find more things to do in the Philly region

2 thoughts on “Visiting Philly’s Wanamaker Organ: The Largest, Functional Pipe Organ in the World”

  1. The largest pipe organ, which is also the largest musical instrument ever built, resides in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. And it does function.


Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!