In honor of Friday the 13th, The Atlantic took a look at the number 13—and namely how obsessively superstitious some individuals can be when it comes to certain digits and our inclination to apply a deeper meaning to them. 18, for instance, is chai in Hebrew, which means life; while number 2 represents balance and cooperation in Chinese; and of course we’re all familiar with the divine and oh-so-lucky number 7. But then there’s 13, a number generally looked upon as especially sinister, particularly in Western culture. In fact, 13 is so suspect that there’s even a scientific name for the fear of the number: triskaidekaphobia (a fear of Friday the 13th the date is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, by the way).
But here’s the funnest bit in the piece that really grabbed our attention: Taking a closer look at New York’s residential buildings with the help of CityRealty, they found that of the 629 buildings with 13 or more floors, only 55 had labeled the 13th floor as the 13th floor—that’s only 9 percent of the total. Common placeholders they found were 14, 12B, 14A, M (the 13th letter in the alphabet) or simply “Penthouse” if the top unit sat on the 13th floor.