The number 13 can either be lucky or unlucky, depending on who you ask.
Many successful sports figures, including Miami Dolphins' longtime quarterback Dan Marino, St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner and basketball legend Wilt Chamberlin, wore the number 13 on their jerseys.
It's also Taylor Swift's lucky number. She was born on Dec. 13 and turned 13 on Friday the 13th. Her first album went gold in 13 weeks and her first No. 1 song had a 13-second intro. During an interview with MTV, Swift said, "Every time I've won an award, I've been seated in either the 13th seat, the 13th row, the 13th section, or row M, which is the 13th letter."
But there's another group of people who don't see the number as lucky at all. In fact, some possess a genuine fear of the number 13. It's a real phobia known as triskaidekaphobia. It's so real, in fact, that it is the driving force behind many high-rise buildings skipping the 13th floor altogether, going straight from 12 to 14.
Some even skip room numbers with 13.
The hospitality industry, in particular, has held on to this superstition, and while many of Nashville, Tennessee's, newest hotels boast a lot of things, from rooftop bars to stunning views, they are mostly lacking one thing: a 13th floor.
"It's a very well-known thing in hospitality," said Jeff Crabiel, chief marketing officer with Castlerock Asset Management, owner and operator of The Westin Nashville (which does not have a 13th floor) and The Bobby Hotel (which is only 10 stories tall).
"We’ve been in development discussions recently, and our architecture teams already know," Craibel said. "They completely omit 13 when talking about hospitality. Signage companies know it. Elevator signage won't have a 13. It’s not even a discussion."
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A history of the number 13
According to Wikipedia, the early origins of the fear of the number 13 date back to the 1400s when a tarot card representing death was numbered XIII, or 13. Evidence of fear of 13 people seated at a table dates back to the 1700s.
The fear of Friday the 13th, or paraskevidekatriaphobia, stems from fear of the number itself. The History Channel says research estimates roughly 10% of the U.S. population has a fear of the number 13, and that each year, financial losses reach upward of $800 million due to the people not marrying, traveling or, in the most severe cases, working on Friday the 13th.
There's also a theory that the height of early skyscrapers in New York City in the 1900s could cast permanent shadows that could have adverse effects.
Is Nashville's ever-changing skyline still void of 13?
Mostly. While few of the hotels in downtown Nashville have a designated 13th floor, some of the office and residential buildings do.
Joe Bucher, director of strategic design for Southwest Value Partners, developer of Nashville Yards, said the office and residential towers going up all have 13th floors. The Grand Hyatt hotel, which is part of the Nashville yards development, does not.
"It’s funny because except for one or two hotels I’ve worked for in my 20-plus years in the industry, there is never a 13th floor," said Grand Hyatt Nashville Area general manager Marc Sternagel. "Some people take it to an extreme. One hotel in New York City didn’t even have 13 as a room number. Here we do, but the floor itself is gone. Just to make sure we don’t freak anybody out."
Albion in The Gulch, a set of two new apartment towers in downtown Nashville, has 13th floors partly because the number is considered lucky by the company's president as well as Vice President of Development Andrew Yule.
"Oddly enough, we have talked about this before, but I don't think anyone in the apartment residential world cares anymore," Yule said. "The superstition is more about a nightly stay on a haunted floor than a residence."
Yule grew up on the 13th floor of his Chicago apartment building on, of all places, Elm Street. He said the superstition had crossed his mind because the building was built in the early 1900s, but beyond guests visiting who would say being on the 13th floor was 'kinda weird,' nothing ever happened.
"My dad started a business on Oct. 13, 1989, so it's always been a lucky day in my family," Yule said. "The president of my company's favorite number his whole life was the number 13. We see it as a laughing matter, so we will continue to use it."
Albion even has apartment 1313 on the 13th floor. As of late May, it had not been rented, partly due to the fact that the building recently opened that floor. To Yule's knowledge, nobody has seemed spooked by it.
For hotels that opt to eliminate the 13th floor, the renumbering of floors can begin at the construction level, or be eliminated later in the design process.
Mark Pasciuto, a project executive with Skanska, worked on Nashville's JW Marriott and said, by design, the building did have a 13th floor in the construction documents and that 13 was the actual floor numbering used during construction.
"However, for graphics and final occupancy, this numbering was eliminated and replaced with 14, yielding the highest occupiable level of 34, although technically it is 33 floors above street grade," he said. Another hotel Pasciuto is working on in Atlanta has no construction versus graphic level difference.
"The design documents simply skip level 13 and both construction and final occupancy signage (including elevator panels) go sequentially from level 12 to 14. It's obviously to address the common superstition of the unlucky number or level 13."
Richard Poskanzer, general manager of Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Nashville, said while the building has no 13th floor, it has two 14th floors.
"Our hotel guest rooms are located between the seventh and fourteenth floors, and our private residences start on the next floor up, also the fourteenth floor," he said. "We chose not to have a recognized 13th floor – long considered bad luck in the hotel industry – so we have two floors labeled as the 14th floor instead."
Will hotels ever stop embracing the centuries-old superstition around the number 13? Jeff Crabiel with Castlerock says under one condition:
"When Taylor Swift puts her name on the building, I’ll build her a 13th floor."
Melonee Hurt covers growth and development at The Tennessean, part of the USA Today Network – Tennessee. Reach Melonee at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Why new high rises in this city might not have a 13th floor