Very Superstitious…Common Building/Elevator/Stairs/Ladder Superstitions

People tend to be very superstitious, whether that’s by avoiding the number 13, steering clear of black cats, or knocking on wood when they don’t want something to come true. Elevators, ladders and stairs specifically seem to get people very worked up. Here’s a look at some common stair, ladder, building and elevator superstitions.


People say it’s bad luck to walk under a leaning ladder. This superstition harks back about 5,000 years to ancient Egypt. A ladder leaning against a wall will form a triangle; Egyptians thought triangles were sacred (think: pyramids), representing the trinity of the gods. Thus, to pass under a triangle was to dishonor them.

This superstition persisted for centuries due to one reason or another. In the 1600s in England, criminals were forced to walk under a ladder as they walked to the gallows.


Superstitious people think that passing others on the stairs will bring bad luck, dating back to biblical passages citing angels passing one another in the opposite direction while traveling on a ladder. Some people are more practical and say passing someone on the stairs is just bad luck because of the risk of falling or tripping when passing someone in such close quarters. Others says it’s bad luck to trip on stairs.


If you’ve ever spent time in a hotel or other tall building, you may have noticed that many do not have a 13th floor. Some people suffer from triskaidekaphobia, an extreme suspicion of the number 13. That’s also why Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. Many hotel builders and owners “remove” the 13th floor so as not to alienate any superstitious clients.

No one knows for sure why skipping the 13th floor became common practice. One reason could refer to the time of the earliest skyscrapers, when New York architects warned developers not to exceed a height that went past the 13th floor, saying this would increase street congestion, create ominous shadows and lower property values.

Whatever the reason, the fear persists. In fact, Otis Elevators says that 85% of buildings that include Otis elevators do not have a 13th floor.


Many superstitions occur within buildings. It’s considered unlucky to open an umbrella indoors. One theory is that back in the day, umbrellas were used as protection from the sun and opening one inside was considered an insult to the sun god.

Breaking a mirror is supposed to bring you seven years of bad luck, thanks to the Romans, the first to create glass mirrors. Many ancient cultures, including Greek, Chinese, Indian and African, thought that mirrors had the power to take away the user’s soul.

There are many superstitions that have us all in a tizzy. But one thing you don’t have to worry about is the quality and safety of a Mowrey elevator. Call us today!