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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Two-Door Paradox

Most large buildings in New York have a pair of doors at their entrance. But, almost always, one of the two is locked closed, and you can only enter the building through the other one.

I haven't been able to figure out the reason for this phenomenon. I entertained the idea that fire codes might require two doors where the owner wanted only one, but that doesn't seem to make sense -- what good is a locked door in case of a fire? So, why keep building two doors at the entrance to large buildings, only to keep one perpetually locked? And, given that the two doors are there, what advantage does the owner gain from sealing one of them off? The practice is so common that I cannot believe that there isn't some good explanation for it, but does anyone know what it is?

8 comments:

  1. I have no idea, but off the top of my head: Maybe only one door being used minimizes the AC bill. The reason they have two doors is because of fire codes, or because maybe during the more temperate times they open up both doors.

    And if the fire code is the reason, I wouldn't put it past the government to fine someone for not having two doors, but not bother checking to see if they keep them unlocked.

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  2. I always thought the second door closed was mostly in the winter months becasue of cold weather. Usually, the closed door is the one that would blast cold air directly on a doorman/security guard.

    I don't recall noticing second locked doors on the West Coast.

    Or, as Bob would say: Where X = number of doors open and Y = temperature measured in farenheit.

    If Y > 60 , then X > 1.

    If Y < 60 , then X = 1.

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  3. They're both closed, just one is unlocked -- could the second one being opened very occasionally -- two people meet at the door -- make a big difference? And it's never unlocked, however temperate.

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  4. "I always thought the second door closed was mostly in the winter months becasue of cold weather. Usually, the closed door is the one that would blast cold air directly on a doorman/security guard."

    Our doorman is 60 feet away from the outside doors, behind a second set of doors -- one of which is always locked as well!

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  5. Ask your doorman, if he knows why.

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  6. Two doors for the two worlds: the apparently locked door is permeable to the spirit world; the apparently unlocked door is for creatures of the flesh. If traffic from both worlds is forced through a single door, terrible and usually irremediable things happen. This has been known for tens of thousands of years, roughly, since the invention of doors.

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  7. If traffic from both worlds is forced through a single door, terrible and usually irremediable things happen.

    Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

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