Is there really a superstition with the 13th floor?

Credit: Mike di Donato/ KTVB

Is there really a superstition with the 13th floor?

Print
Email
|

by KTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 1 at 10:35 AM

BOISE -- There's something about this time of year, that brings old superstitions back to life. Superstitions and folklore like black cats, broken mirrors, moon shadows, even graveyards, but there is one numerical superstition that may be on its last days.

It's been a staple of the Boise skyline since 1978, and during most of those decades, the U.S. Bank Plaza could claim the title of tallest building in Idaho, it just couldn't claim to have a 13th floor.

Step into any of the building's six elevators and you'd be hard-pressed to find the floor between 12 and 14, which is where we found the law firm of Holland and Hart.

When asked what floor they would be on, Bob Faucher, a bankruptcy attorney for Holland and Hart replied, "The 13th...well, the 14th floor is what we call it."

Well, the short version is that it's a superstition that goes back to Norse mythology and Valhalla and a god named Loki, and anyway the number 13 came out with a bad name - and a long one, triskaidekaphobia.

Ever since, the fear of 13 has been followed by almost everyone including builders of high-rise buildings.

According to records once kept by the Otis Elevator Company, 85 percent of the world's skyscrapers didn't have a 13th floor.

"Yeah, no, it is the 13th floor technically, but I don't really think about it very often," Faucher said.

Faucher has worked in the building, on this floor for 21 years, and says he's never seen anything spooky or strange happen here.

"I'm not a superstitious kind of person," said Faucher.

Some might think that triskaidekaphobia is so typical that skipping a floor is still commonplace in construction, but not across the street.

"There's no such thing as superstition in construction," said Dave Wali, Executive Vice President for The Gardner Company.

The Gardner Company is in the final stages of building the tower at 8th and Main, and they're all about throwing conventional wisdom out the window.

"When The Gardner Company came to town everyone said a building can't be built on that site. It's got too much history, too hard to do, too small of a market," said Wali.

And, at some point it was decided the 13th floor should be in the new building.

"This isn't going to be like 85 percent of the buildings in America," said Wali. "That's not what we want."

It wasn't what the Parsons, Behle and Latimer Law Firm wanted either. They did, however, want to be the occupants of the 13th floor.

"There were three floors available and the 13th was one of them," said John Zarian, an attorney for the firm.

Zarian says being on the 13th floor is great, and that they going embrace it.

So maybe we can finally absolve 13 of any ancient eerie associations.

"Let's be honest, the building across the street has a 13th floor, they just call it the 14th floor," said Zarian.

And if you want to know the story about Valhalla and Norse god Loki, well according to a folklore historian there were 12 gods having a dinner party in the heaven of Valhalla when Loki, the 13th uninvited and mischievous guest entered. He arranged to have Balder the Beautiful, god of joy and gladness, be shot with an arrow tipped with mistletoe by the blind god of darkness, Hoder.

Balder died from the shot, and that's when the Earth got dark and mourned the death of the beloved Norse god.
 

Print
Email
|