8. Riverside Church Boasts the Heaviest and Largest Tuned Bell ever Cast
The tower of Riverside Church houses a carillon of bells that were initially installed in 1925, with more bells added later. In total, carillon boasts a total of 74 bronze bells, which at the time was the largest carillon of bells in the world. A carillon is a sets of chromatically tuned bells that span more than two octaves, or 23 bells.
The carillon was donated by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in memory of his mother, Laura Spelman Rockefeller. While the Laura Spelman Rockefeller memorial Carillon may no longer be the largest in the world, the church’s bourdon is 20-ton piece of bronze that is the largest cast and tuned bell up to this day.
Hyechon College Carillon, Seoku, Taejon, South Korea currently holds the record for largest number of bells with 78 bells and the Kick in the Hills in Michigan comes in second with 77 bells. There are less than 200 carillons in the country and only three in New York City. In fact, the only other full-fledged carillon in the city is at St. Martin’s Church on Lenox Avenue and 122nd Street.
New York Daily News published a piece a few years ago about the church’s official carilloneur. Three days a week the retired nonprofit worker travels from his home in Brooklyn to his office, perched on the 21st floor to play the majestic bells.