A peculiarity of elevator panels in high-rise buildings is that they typically lack a button for floor 13. When was the last time you stayed on the thirteenth floor of a hotel or rented an apartment?
Every building with two or more storeys has an invisible 13th level; however, have you ever pondered why architects and engineers never bother to label this floor?
Why don’t we find out?
The Meaning of 13 in History
There are several examples throughout history where the number 13 was seen as a symbol of bad luck or even a portent of doom by different societies.
Most people’s aversion to the number 13 stems from apocryphal stories. Following the Passover meal, the 13th member of Jesus’ inner circle, Judas Iscariot, betrayed him. More than that, the “Great Beast” and the anti-Christ are introduced in Revelation 13:1.
In another literary feast, the number 13 was used as a symbol of death and misfortune unrelated to any religious context. During Norse mythology, a feast was prepared for Baldur, the god of beauty. Except for himself, Loki was not one of the twelve gods invited to the feast, and he was not happy about it. Loki plotted Baldur’s murder at the feast as an act of vengeance. The fact that Loki was the thirteenth visitor adds to the number’s bad repute in the tale.
The 13th and Science
The superstition that the number 13 is cursed is so established in the human psyche that some people actually have a fear of it.
The dread of the number 13 is known as triskaidekaphobia. While most people’s aversion to the number 13 stems from superstition, those with triskaidekaphobia actually suffer significantly more because of their aversion. As many individuals avoid flying or conducting business on Friday the 13th, it is believed that between $800 million and $900 million in revenue is lost every year as a result. If a hotel room number is 13, for example, some individuals will not stay there out of fear of bad luck.
Avoiding the Superstitious Traps
Why don’t developers just call the thirteenth floor the thirteenth floor?
Some novel approaches to escape that pesky label are as follows:
- Ignored; omitting the number 13 from the floor’s tally is the simplest workaround. Because of this, the number of buttons on an elevator panel will increase from 12 to 14.
- The official 12th floor is sometimes followed by a series of additional letters. On the elevator keypad, this reads as the combination of numbers 12A, 12.
- Since M is the 13th letter of the alphabet, certain elevators will have “M” instead of “13” on the control panel. Sometimes, hotels may even construct a “M”-shaped floor, which they will then use to denote a mezzanine.
- Hotels often reserve the thirteenth level for a ballroom, spa, or other special amenity.
The Unlucky 13 and Landlords
Now that you know why the number 13 is considered unlucky, you may be wondering how this superstition plays out in the real world, specifically in the realm of property.
The answer is straightforward: money.
Since many people felt uneasy around the number 13, business owners and builders played it safe by avoiding the use of 13 whenever possible. When assigning floor and room numbers, it was simpler to skip over the number 13 and jump right to 14.
Prominent American Structures that are Missing a 13th Floor
Where in the United States would you find a notable structure without a 13th floor? Yes! Some illustrations are as follows:
- Hotel Burnham (Chicago) omits the number 13 from its floor plans despite the fact that its 13th floor is still in operation as a guest residence.
- The 13th floor of Trump Tower in Chicago is a mezzanine.
- As with many New York City hotels, the Essex House does not have room number 13.
- Because of its many superstitious visitors, the Sherry-Netherland in New York City does not have a 13th floor; in fact, the hotel’s room numbers all start with a different number.
The superstition that some people still attribute to the number 13 in lodgings like hotels and apartments is, at this point, mostly based on personal preference. According to a survey taken in 2007, the 13th floor of a hotel doesn’t matter much to 87% of American guests. On the other hand, according to Mowrey Elevators, only 15% of their elevators actually contain the number 13.