Elevator and Other Related Superstitions

It’s that time of year again: Halloween brings out all the spooky superstitions that many of us believe but don’t necessarily admit! Here are some common superstitions we all think about from time to time, but especially during October, as they relate to elevators, stairs, lifts, ladders, and more.


Let’s start with the buildings themselves. As you know, there are many superstitions associated with buildings, especially old ones. But there are some pretty universal superstitions that most people believe, such as how unlucky it is to open an umbrella indoors. Why is this fear still out there? Well, this one goes pretty far back. Opening an umbrella – which was supposed to provide protection from the sun – indoors meant you were insulting the sun god.

What about breaking mirrors? If you do that, you get seven years of bad luck, at least that’s what the Romans had you believing. Heck, they were the first to create glass mirrors so maybe they knew something we didn’t. Many ancient cultures, including Indian, Greek, Chinese and African, believed mirrors had inherent powers that could take away your soul.


Many hotels and other tall buildings don’t have a 13th floor, as you may have noticed. Have a fear of the number 13? You’re not alone. People who suffer from this phobia suffer from something called triskaidekaphobia, an extreme suspicion of this number. This has extended to the date of Friday the 13th, which is considered a very unlucky day. This is why many hotel owners and builders “remove” the 13th floor so they don’t scare superstitious clients or tenants.

Wondering why skipping the 13th floor became so common? One theory says that at the time of the emergence of the earliest skyscrapers, New York architects told developers not to exceed a height beyond the 13th floor. They warned them that this would boost street congestion, cast ominous shadows and decrease property values.

The fear remains, however unfounded, to this day, with Otis Elevators reporting about 85 percent of the buildings containing its elevators don’t include a 13th floor.


If you see a leaning ladder, it’s known as bad luck to walk underneath it. This superstition trails back 5,000 years to ancient Egyptian times. Because a ladder that had been leaned against a wall would form a triangle, the Egyptians were afraid of this symbolism, as triangles were sacred and represented the trinity of the gods. Think: pyramids. If one were to pass under such a triangle, this would dishonor the gods.

This superstition lasted throughout the ensuing centuries. It has even been said that in 1600s England, criminals were led under a ladder as they were walked to the gallows, as punishment?


Some people think that if they pass another person on the stairs that it will bring bad luck, dating back to Bible entries that cite angels passing one another in the opposite direction while traveling on ladders. The more practical reason by today’s standards attributes passing someone on the stairs as bad luck due to the simple risk of falling or tripping in such close quarters.

Got more elevator or related superstitions? Share them with us! And if you need service for your lift, call us right away.