Elevators are among the most important mechanical systems in building structures that are quite susceptible to earthquake-induced damages. This survey paper is written primarily for the earthquake engineers who have not been directly involved in the design and maintenance of elevator systems but who are professionally interested in their functioning and performance. It describes the important components of an elevator system and highlights those that are most susceptible to earthquake-induced ground motions. A comprehensive review of the observed performance of elevators in past earthquakes reported by many investigators in the open literature is also presented. The evolution of code provisions for seismic design of these systems, measures adopted by the industry to mitigate the seismic effects and enhance seismic performance, and rationale of simple formula used for the current designs of counterweight guide rails and their supports are reviewed. A comprehensive review of the technical studies conducted to examine the dynamic behavior of these studies is also presented.

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