As I mentioned in my last post , we are temporarily living in a 14th floor apartment in New Brunswick , NJ while our new house is being built. Except that , it may not really be the 14th floor.
This building has offices on the first few floors with the upper floors being reserved for condos and rental apartments. There are separate entrances for offices and apartments and our elevators do not stop at floors 2-8, the first stop being at the 9th floor. The lowest eight floors presumably are for offices only and have a separate entrance and their own bank of elevators. When our son was visiting us and we were going up in the elevator together , he remarked that many office/apartment buildings purposely inflated the floor numbers to make them more desirable. In his own building , he said he lives on the 11th floor but thinks it’s really two or three floors lower.This was news to me.I’d known that most buildings didn’t have a 13th floor but I didn’t think that there would be any other phantom floors. Since then , I’ve tried to investigate the mystery , and I think he’s right .. our apartment really is on the 11th floor , not the 14th.
How things change. Before the advent of elevators , it was the lower floors that were most in demand. Guests at hotels paid most for a ground level room, with rooms on the upper floors being progressively cheaper. Residential buildings (walk-ups) were limited to six floors because no one wanted to negotiate that many steps day-in and day-out. Besides, upper floor residents were more vulnerable in case of a fire.
Elevators , when they were first introduced , were used only for freight ; they were too dangerous for people to ride. However , when Elisha Graves Otis introduced safety measures that made elevators safe enough to carry people , it changed everything overnight. The upper floors became more in demand , with a penthouse suite the mark of exclusivity, the sign that one had arrived. It’s a mindset that prevails to this day and the reason why we have phantom floors.
I’m not sold on the idea that higher is always better. Up to a certain height, perhaps the sixth floor , I agree. But, beyond that ,it doesn’t make much difference as long as you are higher than any other building in the vicinity.The worst thing is to have enjoyed a pristine view from your windows and then , just as you were getting accustomed to it, have another skyscraper come up next to your building and block your view. In some cases , it has even resulted in homicide.
The problem with the upper floors of the tallest skyscrapers is that it takes too long to get to ground level and , even though I don’t particularly fear heights , I would feel vulnerable. That is why, in iconic buildings like the Burj Khalifa, the uppermost floors were not the draw that they were expected to be. Another problem was that , at that height , you were above the clouds and there was nothing to look out at.