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  • Writer's pictureKat


Updated: Nov 18, 2021

There's a widely held belief about numbers and evidence linking them to misfortune.

Welcome to the modern world, where there’s a good chance your elevator will magically take you from the12th floor to the14th if you work in an office, are staying at a hotel or live a residential complexe.

Believe it or not, some streets don't have a house 4 or 13. This is true for East Asian and Western cultures. those who are very superstitious avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled with them. Floors and adresses containing such numbers have gone missing and are still perceived today as undesirable by potential home buyers.

Common culture

In North America scholars take us back in history to the Last Supper, as it was Judas, the 13th guest at dinner, who betrayed Jesus. There's also Thomas Lawson an American author who in 1907 wrote a book about Friday the 13th,where a stock broker devises a malicious plan to crash the stock market.

Building for superstitious reasons is common in many parts of the world, particularly in Western and East Asian cultures

However the City of Vancouver in Canada now has developers include numbers that are considered unlucky. When the law passed in 2015 the changes only applied to new construction, so the old buildings were not affected and remained witouth.

“The aversion of people for unlucky floor numbers have builders assign them to laundry services, a pool, mechanical rooms, a mezzanine, or restaurants.”

No data exists, and will never exist, to confirm that the number 13 is an unlucky number," said Igor Radun a scientist quoted in Livescience. Still, Otis Elevators company estimated that 85% of the buildings with their elevators did not have a13th floor just a few years ago.

Early skyscrapers

During the building of skyscrapers in New York, architectural critics cautioned developers not to surpass the height of the 13th floor over concers of excess, shadows they would create and the unlivable conditions that would ensue. The first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, constructed in Chicago in 1885 was built as the regional headquarters for tje insurance company and did not have a 13th floor. Fun facts, the Empire State Building has one, so does the Flatiron, as did the Twin Towers. One World Trade Center includes it, as do all Hilton International hotels.

Rational basis and safety standards

Fastforward to the modern world, for first reponders it became a safety concern, over access in emergency situations. For real estate agents the properties were not harder to sell but the floor plan were confusing.

Also in an emergency, the omission of numbers caused a higher chance of making mistakes like going to the wrong floor when firefighters and paramedics have to make their way through smoky buildings to save lives. Definetely a rational argument there, that weighed in to reinstate basic numbering.

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