Webb Tower: No 13th Floor

In the United States, the lack of a thirteenth floor is common to many tall buildings. This photo was taken in the elevator of Webb Tower. Built in the 1980s, Webb Tower is unique among USC’s dorms. Not only does it have the greatest number of floors of any on-campus residential building, fourteen, it does not include a thirteenth floor. The labels in the elevator run from twelve to fourteen to fifteen.

The belief in an unlucky number thirteen can be traced far back in Anglo folklore. The number twelve represents a wholesome number as it matches the number of months in a year. If twelve signifies an ideal number, then it follows that thirteen offsets its perfection. The bad sign of thirteen likewise relates to the Bible since Jesus is said to have thirteen disciples, Judas being the thirteenth. The superstition continues today with the stigma surrounding Friday the thirteenth, which is traditionally marked by the release of horror movies.

I find the renaming of floors to avoid the unlucky number thirteen to be silly superstition. The number assigned to the floor might not be “thirteen,” but the floor is nonetheless the thirteenth floor. I lived in Webb Tower for two years and refused to live above the “fourteenth” floor. Not because of a belief in an unlucky thirteen, but as a sort of whimsical protest to the superstition. Therefore, I have re-adapted the folklore of the nonexistent thirteenth floor into my own variation.

Elevator folklore