Do Buildings Have a 13th Floor?

If you’ve ever been in a tall building, chances are you’ve noticed that there’s almost always a floor labeled “13.” But have you ever stopped to wonder why? Is it because builders are superstitious? Or is there another reason entirely? Let’s take a closer look at the history of the 13th floor and find out.The earliest known instance of a 13th floor in a building was in the adding of an elevator to the New York City apartment building at 40 West 67th Street in 1904. The builders, William Astorreshold and Benjamin Arbea, decided to add an extra floor to the 12-story building so they could install an elevator—something that was still quite new and novel at the time. They chose not to label this new floor as the 13th, however, instead opting for the more neutral “M,” for mechanicals. (Read more about How many buildings in the world)

So, do buildings have a 13th floor?

It wasn’t until 1907 that the first purpose-built 13th floor made its debut in Chicago. The skyscraper at 133-135 N. LaSalle Street was designed by Holabird & Roche with 13 full floors—labeled as such—and a partial 14th floor on top for the mechanicals. It’s believed that the decision to include a 13th floor was purely practical; since most buildings only went up to 12 stories at the time, it’s likely that Holabird & Roche wanted their building to stand out from the rest. Check out about Country with the tallest buildings on previous post.

Since then, many theories have been put forth as to why so many buildings Skip the 13th Floor. Some say it’s because of triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13; others believe it has something to do with superstitious tenants who didn’t want to live on an unlucky floor. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon—so if you’re ever in a tall building and can’t find the 13th floor, now you know why!


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