The Rule of 13: Why Isn’t There a 13th Floor?

For those astute observers out there, you may have noticed that many hotels and office buildings don’t have a 13th floor. How could this legend about the unluckiness of the number 13 pervade even the hospitality industry? Are we all that superstitious to the point of excluding a whole floor? Apparently, yes. And apparently, there are many reasons for this unique piece of elevator trivia.

Elevator With No 13th Floor


At the very root of all the hubbub surrounding the number 13 is the superstition that it’s inherently unlucky. This sentiment comes all the way from ancient times when the Code of Hammurabi (one of the world’s oldest known legal documents) reportedly left out a 13th law from the list of rules. The fact that it was later found to be a simple clerical error makes no difference: the die was already cast.

There are a few other theories as to why 13 is considered unlucky. First, Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to arrive at the Last Supper. The other harkens back to ancient Norse times when the mischievous god Loki arrived at a party in Valhalla as the 13th guest. This threw into chaos the balance of the 12 gods who were already there.

Far-Reaching Impacts

Are you one of the many people in this country who suffer from triskaidekaphobia — a severe fear of the number 13? Or do you suffer from the more specific paraskevidekatriaphobia – which is a fear of Friday the 13th? You’re not alone on that one, as up to 10 percent of the population suffers from this. In the most extreme cases, people will avoid getting married, traveling or even going to their job whenever a Friday the 13th rolls around, resulting in a staggering financial loss of more than $800 million every year, according to

Fear of 13 Pervades Hotel Industry

With the arrival of the first skyscrapers in 1885, it was rare for a hotel or other building to contain more than 12 floors. That’s because superstitious builders thought that omitting the 13th and subsequent floors would prevent unseemly shadows from arising on the streets outside. That tradition stuck until the need for taller buildings came about in the 20th century.

Today, 85 percent of elevator panels don’t have the number 13. You won’t find it on the panels and you won’t find it in the stairwells. While the 14th floor is actually the 13th floor for obvious structural reasons, guests seem to take comfort in the fact that the number 13 is not mentioned at all. Business owners, builders and developers tend to omit the 13th floor from office buildings and apartment complexes because they may lose out on tenants who refuse to live or work on the 13th floor.

We love a good story here at Mowrey Elevators, but superstitions don’t keep us from doing our jobs. Rely on us for quality design, manufacture, and installation of elevators for all types of commercial buildings and private residences.