Why Do Buildings Still Skip The 13th Floor?

Why Do Buildings Still Skip The 13th Floor?

It's most noticeable in the elevator: in tall buildings, you may see buttons for every floor except 13. For the superstitious, staying, living, or working on the 13th floor can cause a sense of discomfort, sometimes so much so that they switch floors or take their business elsewhere. But according to a 2007 Gallup poll, a whopping 87% of people don't mind staying in a 13th-floor hotel room. So why are we designing entire buildings based on a meager -- and oddly coincidental -- 13% of the population? For one thing, building owners have nothing to lose by renaming the floors, since it keeps the business of the superstitious, and the unsuperstitious don't care either way. But there's another reason: Removing the 13th floor bumps every subsequent floor up by one, so a 19-story building becomes a more impressive 20 stories, and 14th-floor rents increase to more extravagant 15th-floor prices. For building owners, superstitions are good for business.

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Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    The first noted references to Friday the 13th as a superstition showed up around the mid 19th century. A U.S. Army captain founded the 13 club: a group of 13 men in New York with an aim to prove superstitions false. They gathered for the first time on Friday the 13th, 1881. (0:18)

  • 2

    The superstition may have roots in ancient history. In numerology, 12 stands for completeness and 13 is considered out of place. Friday is name for the Norse Goddess Frigg, who the Christian Church later tried to demonize. (0:39)

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