Whether you’ve lived in New York your whole life or are just visiting, you’ve probably observed that very few buildings have a thirteenth floor.
In fact, if you’re staying in a hotel, you probably won’t have any trouble getting from the 12th level to the 14th thanks to your elevator’s pixie dust. Is this magic? Most likely not. Is there anything to it but superstition? Almost certainly.
If the 13th floor had real power, how would it affect New York City property prices? Absolutely.
Why Don’t New York City Buildings Have a Thirteenth Floor?
Superstition has a dark and ancient beginning. The number has always been associated with bad luck, particularly in Western culture.
As the 13th guest at the Last Supper, Judas was the one who betrayed Jesus, and this has led some academics to believe that this event may have been its genesis. Contrarily, the questionable digit is also found in other civilizations. The number 13 is considered to be unlucky in both Norse mythology and traditional Hinduism.
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It is also likely that early architectural concerns about establishing too-tall structures contributed to New Yorkers’ general antipathy to the 13th level. Before skyscrapers dotted the cityscape, architects warned that anything more than 13 storeys would cast too much darkness over the area, making it uninhabitable. How eerie!
There is no hard evidence that living on the 13th floor in New York City is dangerous, and the practise of witchcraft has been around for a long time even though it is not widely believed to be so.
How many New York City High-Rises have Floors that don’t go from 12 to 14?
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Superstition can’t possibly have an impact on something as important as building a skyscraper.” Most likely, structures with 14 or more stories have more floors than those with only 13.
You would be shocked. CityRealty, a NYC real estate data and listing service, published a study in 2015 that included information on 629 buildings with 13 or more stories. Only 55 buildings had the 13th floor designated as such.
That’s right, only 9% of the buildings surveyed have elevators that service floors 13 and above. The Wall Street Journal compiled a list of residential structures of 12 floors or fewer.
What do the 574 superstitious buildings do with their unmarked space, given that they all officially have 13th floors? For many, the answer lies in just not marking the floor at all.
In other structures, the vacant units are used to store tools, supplies, or even a laundromat. To the best of my knowledge, none of the staff working on those floors suffer from triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13.
Do 13th-Floor Apartments have a Harder Time Renting?
While studies have proven that few people actually believe that the number 13 is bad, it hasn’t stopped builders from playing it safe. Realtors rarely have trouble moving listings on that floor, but in reality, few buildings have units on that level to begin with.
However, if there is even a remote possibility that a property on the thirteenth story won’t sell owing to superstition, a developer will skip from twelve to fourteen floors in an instant.
Of course, this is music to the ears of certain real estate brokers. A licenced real estate agent with Urban Pads, Sam Hellinger, told us that he once had a customer choose a second-level unit over a unit on the thirteenth floor with a considerably greater view. Many still view it as a sign of poor fortune, he notes.
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However, several of New York City’s most recognisable landmarks really have 13 stories. One can be found in the Empire State Building. It’s true that the Twin Towers and the Flatiron also have this quality.
All Hilton International properties, including One World Trade Center, have it. The 13th floors of both the Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria are clearly marked. It comes as no surprise that these recognisable structures have no complaints about a lack of attention.