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Why No 13th Floor Elevators?

Ever since the first Friday the 13th movie came out, that day has a bit of a stigma attached to it. A lot of people seem to stay home and as far away from other people as possible, fearing some kind of karmic backlash from the universe. In fact, I just heard on the radio that sales go down 6 percent on any Friday that falls on the 13th day of the month. The movie was scary but still…what gives?

Well it seems that this trend goes back many, many years to 1869, when a biography of Gioachino Rossini mentioned that the great composer felt that Fridays and the number 13 were unlucky. Surprisingly, Rossini died on Friday, November 13th. So the phobia has run deep for hundreds of years and the superstition has been passed onto elevators. Have you ever noticed that there are no number 13 floors on most elevators?

Of course, you can’t just skip a 13th floor – that would be a total waste of space – but there is a distinct skip from 12 to 14 on most elevators. This could be looked at as silly or necessary – either way, it’s a given fact when planning a building. For instance, this article about a former jail that was converted into a public safety building has a passage about their removal of the number 13:

“While the top floor of the building undergoing a $24.4 million makeover is on the 13th floor, the number on the control panel in each of the building’s towers will be changed, Essex County Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said.

‘This is the 14th floor,’ DiVincenzo announced. ‘The 13th is supposedly unlucky.’”

I guess the only way to get an elevator with the number 13 in it is to custom order one yourself. Otherwise, good luck finding one!


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