New York's Irrational Fear of the Number 13

Lucky for some
Lucky for some

The Atlantic posted an article this morning entitled Skipping the 13th Floor about how we assign so much meaning to numbers that our superstition affects infrastructure design. Local housing data firm CityRealty analyzed every one of the 629 buildings in Manhattan that had more than 12 floors in order to see how buildings handled the "unlucky" number 13.

The company found that, out of 629 buildings with 13 or more floors, only 55 labeled the 13th floor as the 13th floor. That means only 9 percent of the condos that actually have 13th floors label them as such. The remaining 91 percent of buildings with 13th floors relabeled them.

So what did they label those floors as instead of the number 13?

Some replaced the supposedly unlucky number with another, like 14, or 12B, or 14A. Others rejected numbers completely, using M (the 13th letter), or, if 13 is the top floor, naming it the "penthouse" instead.

When asked if they would have a problem living on the 13th floor, most New York City residents said it wouldn't make a difference. So why are builders avoiding the number?

CityRealty's Director of Research and Communications Gabby Warshawer tells me it's a preventative measure, in case any potential buyers or renters are superstitious. Even a slight fear of the number could stop someone from a purchase. "It's not an issue that the real-estate community is very concerned with," she admits. "But from the developers' perspective, even if there's a .01 percent chance it'll affect prices, why take a risk at all?"

Would you live on the 13th floor?

via Atlantic

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