New York City’s first World Trade Center (WTC) consisted of a cluster of seven interconnected towers in the city’s Financial District. It first welcomed the public on April 4, 1973, but was wiped out in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The number 13 has been historically considered unlucky, and this superstition has manifested in fascinating ways, particularly in architecture. You may have noticed that many buildings in the United States seem to lack a 13th floor. Is this a mere coincidence, or is it a deliberate omission based on superstitions?
In this SEO-optimized article, we will explore the existence of the 13th floor in U.S. buildings and hotels, why the number 13 is considered unlucky, and how many such 13th-floor locations actually exist.
The original 1 World Trade Center (North Tower) stood at 1,368 feet (417 m) and 2 World Trade Center (South Tower) stood at 1,362 feet (415.1 m).
Making them the world’s tallest structures when they were completed. The Marriott World Trade Center (Bldg. 3) and the World Trade Centers (4, 5, 6, and 7) were also part of the complex. There were approximately 1,240,000 square feet (1,380,000 square metres) of office space in the building.
Why Don’t NYC Buildings Have 13th Floors?
The origins of the superstition lie in a vague, forgotten era. There has always been a stigma associated with the mentioned number, particularly in Western culture. Since Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper and ultimately betrayed Jesus, some academics believe that this event may have been its genesis.
The questionable number, however, can be found in other cultures as well. Unlucky 13s can be seen in both Norse mythology and ancient Hinduism. Another probable explanation for New Yorkers’ dislike to the 13th level is because architects were initially wary of constructing skyscrapers there for fear of public backlash.
Before skyscrapers dominated the cityscape, critics warned that anything taller than 13 storeys would cast too much darkness over the area, making it uninhabitable. How eerie!
The use of the number 13 as a floor in New York City has been uncommon for years, and this is true regardless of the origins. The origins of the witchcraft or the existence or absence of any hard proof indicating that doing so carries any threats to your welfare.
The 13th and Science
Fear of the number 13 is grounded in the long-held belief that it is ill-fated by superstition. Triskaidekaphobia refers specifically to an irrational fear of the number 13. Those who suffer from triskaidekaphobia have a much more severe reaction to the number 13, even if most people have a fear of it for superstitious reasons.
It is estimated that between $800 million and $900 million in annual income is lost as a result of people avoiding travelling or conducting business on Friday the 13th. Some people, for example, won’t stay in a room whose number is 13, because they believe it brings bad luck.
Do Any U.S. Buildings Have a 13th Floor?
Yes, some buildings in the United States do have a 13th floor. However, this is relatively uncommon due to the superstitious beliefs surrounding the number 13. Many buildings opt to skip this number entirely when labeling their floors, moving directly from 12 to 14.
Some might label the 13th floor as “M” (the 13th letter of the alphabet), or use it for mechanical or storage purposes, thereby avoiding having residences or offices on that level.
Do Any Hotels Have a 13th Floor?
The practice of omitting the 13th floor is particularly prevalent in hotels. The hospitality industry is highly sensitive to customer perceptions and superstitions, given that guests should feel comfortable during their stay. For this reason, you’ll find that many hotels in the United States avoid having a 13th floor, or if they do, they may use it for non-guest related activities such as storage or housekeeping.
Why is the Number 13 Considered Unlucky?
The superstition surrounding the number 13 has deep historical and cultural roots. Various theories suggest why 13 is considered unlucky:
- Numerology: In numerology, the number 12 is often considered a “complete” or “perfect” number, as evidenced by the 12 months in a year or 12 zodiac signs. The number 13, being one more than 12, is considered irregular, symbolizing disorder and imbalance.
- Religious Beliefs: In Christianity, the Last Supper had 13 individuals present, and the betrayal of Jesus happened shortly after. This has contributed to the negative perception of the number 13.
- Historical Associations: Various myths and historical events have contributed to the unlucky status of 13. For instance, in Norse mythology, Loki—the trickster god—was the 13th god in the Norse pantheon and the one who brought about chaos.
How Many 13th Floor Locations Are There?
The exact number of 13th-floor locations in the U.S. is hard to pin down. However, according to various architectural and real estate studies, a significant percentage of buildings constructed in the last few decades avoid the 13th floor. These numbers vary by region and type of building, but it is safe to say that while 13th floors are not entirely extinct, they are decidedly rare.
The History Behind the Missing 13th Floor
The practice of omitting the 13th floor dates back several decades and has various roots in history and folklore. Though no single event or period can be credited with the inception of this custom, it has undeniably influenced modern architectural practices.
In early 20th-century America, as skyscrapers started dotting the city landscapes, the tradition of excluding the 13th floor from building plans began to gain traction.
Cultural Beliefs and Superstitions
The number 13 has been historically deemed unlucky in many cultures around the globe, and these superstitious beliefs have played a major role in the mystery surrounding the 13th floor.
- Western Superstitions: The number 13 is considered unlucky in many Western cultures. One widely held belief traces back to the Last Supper, where Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was said to be the 13th person to sit at the table.
- Numerology: In numerology, the number 12 is considered complete—think 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, etc.—while 13 is regarded as irregular.
- Asian Influences: In some East Asian cultures, the number 4 is considered unlucky because it sounds like the word for ‘death’ in languages like Chinese and Japanese. This belief has occasionally influenced the omission of the 13th floor, which contains the digit 4.
The 13th Floor in Modern Architecture
While it’s less common for new buildings to omit the 13th floor today, the practice is far from extinct. Many contemporary architects and builders continue to bow to customer preferences and cultural norms, labeling the 13th floor as 14, M (the 13th letter of the alphabet), or relegating it to a mechanical floor.
On the other hand, some modern structures proudly display the 13th floor, reflecting a shift in perceptions or merely ignoring the superstition altogether.
Numerous cultures throughout time have ascribed negative connotations to the number 13, some even going so far as to view it as a harbinger of impending doom. The widespread superstitious fear of the number 13 is grounded on urban legends. Judas Iscariot, the thirteenth member of Jesus’ inner circle.
The superstition surrounding the number 13 has had a unique impact on architecture and hospitality in the United States. While some buildings and hotels do have a 13th floor, the majority opt to avoid it, either skipping the number entirely or using it for non-residential purposes.
This phenomenon provides a fascinating glimpse into how cultural beliefs can shape even the most practical aspects of our lives, like where we live and stay. Whether or not you personally find the number 13 unlucky, its influence on U.S. buildings and hotels is undeniable.
Betrayed him after the Passover dinner. The “Great Beast” and the antichrist are also introduced in Revelation 13:1.