1886 was the 15th year after the founding of the City of Birmingham.
- January 5: The Elyton Land Company began operating the first public utility electrical plant in the state.
- March 8: The first organized celebration of Mardi Gras was held in Birmingham.
- March 25: W. C. Kerr discovered an underground river while boring wells for the Birmingham Rolling Mill.
- May 29: A fantastical report of an adventure on an underground river appeared in The Daily Age.
- The Alabama Surgical and Gynecological Association was founded.
- The Birmingham Public Library was established, but quickly foundered.
- The Dora Post Office was established.
- The Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham Railroad and the Sheffield & Birmingham Railroad arrived in Jasper.
- Mineral Springs Park was established by the city of North Birmingham.
- The original Powell School building was damaged by fire and declared unsafe.
- The Relay House was demolished to make room for the new L & N Station.
- The Carbon Hill station was established on the Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham railroad.
- The town of Riverside was incorporated.
- February 3: The Caldwell Hotel was incorporated by officers of the Elyton Land Company.
- June 26: The Highland Avenue Railroad opened the first steam-powered dummy line in the South.
- July 6: The East Lake Land Company was incorporated.
- August 19: The Alabama Iron Works was incorporated.
- September 28: The South-Side Land Company was incorporated.
- October 1: The North Birmingham Land Company was incorporated.
- October 22: The Birmingham Paint, Glass and Wall Paper Company was incorporated.
- November: A new tile floor was installed in the lobby of the O'Brien Opera House as a gift from Charles Pierce.
- December 9: The North Birmingham Railway Company was incorporated.
- December 10: The Birmingham College of Business was incorporated.
- December 28: Colonel Enoch Ensley sold his Pratt Coal and Iron Company and Linn Iron Works to the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company (TCI), and was installed as its president.
- Molton Realty Company was founded.
- What would become Southern Progress was founded with the publishing of the Progressive Farmer.
- John T. Milner and George McLaughlin incorporated the Red Mountain Mining & Manufacturing Company, operating at Hedona.
- Willis Milner and William Kettig founded the Milner & Kettig Company mine and mill suppliers.
- R. Rochester founded the W.K.T.B. grocery store.
- J. E. Heins and Rothenhoffer opened the Excelsior Bakery at 2027 2nd Avenue North
- Al Hochstadter founded the Magic City Steam Bottling Works.
- Brothers Marcus and Ben Weil opened M. Weil & Bro. in the Potter Building on 1st Avenue North
- January 2: Reverend Charles Burkart began delivering Lutheran sermons in Birmingham.
- July 31: The cornerstone of the first Temple Emanu-El building was laid.
- September 22: St John African Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated.
- First Methodist Episcopal Church, South of Avondale was founded.
- Alexander Rosenspitz became rabbi of Temple Emanu-El.
- Southside Baptist Church was formed.
- Eldred B. Teague became pastor of Ruhama Baptist Church.
- Samuel Ullman succeeded Isaac Hochstadter as president of Temple Emanu-El.
- October 7: Catcher Harry Vaughn made his debut with the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
- December: Rube Burrow robbed his first train.
- December 1: Thomas Seay became Governor of Alabama.
- George Bodeker moved to Birmingham.
- First George Brewer and then N. D. Van Syckel became principal of Powell School.
- John Bruce became a judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
- John Carmichael was admitted to the Alabama State Bar.
- William Elias B. Davis was elected treasurer of the Jefferson County Medical Society.
- Frank Evans was elected Birmingham City Treasurer.
- W. P. G. Harding began serving as assistant cashier of Berney National Bank.
- A. O. Pickard became Birmingham Fire Chief.
- Daniel Reamer moved to Birmingham with his parents.
- Architect W. W. Rose left Birmingham.
- William Starbuck was hired by the Southern Bridge Company.
- February 8: Roy "Slippery" Ellam, Birmingham Barons shortstop
- February 27: Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice
- March 19: Arthur Dycer, Congregationalist pastor
- April 23: Harry Coveleski, baseball player
- July 25: George Menefee, tire dealer
- July 28: A. Clinton Decker, sanitation engineer and first Mayor of Fairfield
- September 5: Theodore Swann, industrial chemist
- September 19: Christopher Chenery, engineer and founder of Southern Natural Gas Company
- October 4: Etoile Virginia Ashford
- October 9: Bertha Pizitz Smolian, community activist and philanthropist
- November 27: A. J. Hawkins, city engineer
- Nathaniel Barrett earned his M.D. from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
- Daniel Greene graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law.
- June 12: Myrtle Corbin, the "Four Legged Girl", married James Bicknell in Blount County.
- August 25: Architect Edouard Sidel to Jeanne Legras in New Orleans, Louisiana
- September 29: Architect Harry Wheelock to Louise Oakley Coffin.
- November 30: Justice James Stiles to Mary C. Porter
- December 21: Attorney Mitchell A. Porter to Hattie Earle
- December 27: School superintendent John Herbert Phillips to Nellie Cobbs
- Moses Fields, first white child born in Jefferson County
- Steve Renfroe, Sumter County Sheriff (lynched at Alamuchee Bridge)
- Mineral Wealth of Alabama edited by John Dubose
- Report on the Internal Commerce of the United States as to Alabama by John Dubose
- "Sketches of Alabama" by Mary Gordon Duffee
- Brookside mine
- Brunswick Hotel at 301-303 24th Street South
- The Casino major refurbishing
- First Baptist Church of Birmingham second building
- Paul Hayne School
- Iron Age building
- St Clair County Courthouse addition/modification
- Slaton, McGlathery & Burwell warehouse
- The first St James United Methodist Church building
- Wylam Mines No. 1 and No. 2
In 1886, Karl Benz patented the first successful gasoline-driven automobile, the Benz Patent Motorwagen. The Haymarket affair in Chicago saw an unknown number of people killed an injured when dynamite was thrown at police. Coca-Cola was invented. In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as living persons. President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom in the White House, becoming the only president to wed in the executive mansion. A major earthquake struck Charleston, South Carolina. Apache leader Geronimo surrendered with his last band of warriors to General Nelson Miles at Skeleton Canyon in Arizona. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor. Heinrich Hertz verified the existence of the electromagnetic waves.
Literature published in 1886 included Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. Music published included "Semper Fidelis" by John Philip Sousa and The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.
Notable births in 1886 included comic actor Charles Ruggles, stop motion animator Willis O'Brien, photographer Edward Weston, blues singer Ma Rainey, entertainer Al Jolson, mountaineer George Mallory, General Henry H. Arnold, cartoon producer Fred Quimby, actor Ed Wynn, ethologist Karl von Frisch, author Rose Wilder Lane, and baseball player Ty Cobb. Deaths included architect Henry Hobson Richardson, poet Emily Dickinson, inventor John Deere, composer Franz Liszt, and former president Chester A. Arthur.
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