1986 was the 115th year after the founding of the City of Birmingham.
- February: Operation Western Sizzler concluded.
- April 16: Manager Nathan Madison was killed during a robbery at the Ensley Grill.
- July 13: SouthPoint American Cafe waitress Tracey Schoettlin was abducted from Southside and raped and murdered by schizophrenic Tommy Bradley.
- August 28: Anderson Place Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
- June: The Birmingham Airport Authority was created.
- October 28: President Ronald Reagan visited Birmingham.
- November 2-26: James Alexander's exhibition of Birmingham Terra Cotta was shown at the UAB Visual Arts Gallery.
- November 27: The Homewood High School Marching Band led the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- The first We Love Homewood Day was held.
- The first Liberty Day was held in Columbiana.
- Arlington School closed.
- The former Ridgely Apartments opened as the new Tutwiler Hotel.
- A reserve population of watercress darters was planted at Penny Springs in Pinson.
- A fire badly damaged the Studio Arts Building.
- AIDS Task Force of Alabama was founded.
- The first Beam's Crawfish Boil took place.
- Space One Eleven was founded.
- The Center for Urban Missions was founded.
- Former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black appeared on a U. S. postage stamp
- Chris McNair and Reuben Davis were the first African Americans elected to the Jefferson County Commission.
- AAA Auto Truck and Trailer became Southern Comfort Conversions.
- Buffalo Rock purchased the Tuscaloosa Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company.
- HealthSouth went public.
- Moore-Handley, Inc. went public.
- Ulysses Smoot received a revitalization loan from Birmingham to refurbish the Jaguar Club.
- Tuscaloosa's Vinyl Solution record shop moved to University Boulevard.
- Air New Orleans relocated from Panama City, Florida to Birmingham.
- Walls Newspapers Consultants relocated from Houston, Texas to Birmingham.
- February 19: The Riverchase Galleria opened in Hoover.
- B & B Smith Construction was founded.
- BioCryst opened.
- Cosmo's Pizza opened.
- Eighteenth Street Orientals opened.
- Mabel's Beauty Shop & Chainsaw Repair opened on 14th Street South.
- Nidek Medical was founded.
- Silvertron Café opened.
- Terrific New Theatre was founded.
- Intensive Care Beauty Salon opened.
- NewsBreak opened on Highland Avenue.
- Jack Scheffer founded Schaeffer Eye Center.
- Dennis Dunlap opened Rocky's Pizza on Green Springs Highway
- The rock band Storm Orphans formed in Tuscaloosa.
- The Pizitz department store chain was sold to McRae's.
- Fair Park Drive-In and Mustang Drive-In closed.
- Costa and Head filed for bankruptcy.
- September 12: The Stafford Inn in Tuscaloosa closed.
- Almost Famous art gallery at Five Points South closed.
- March 30: First Baptist Church of Birmingham held its first service at its new building in Homewood on Easter Sunday.
- March 24: Bobby Unser set a closed-course speed record for four-wheel drive vehicles at Talladega Superspeedway.
- August 4: The USFL suspended their scheduled fall season, effectively ending the Birmingham Stallions.
- October 2: Vida Blue pitched his final Major League game.
- December 25: Alabama beat Washington 28-6 in the Sun Bowl.
- December 31: The first All-American Bowl was held at Legion Field.
- Alabama A&M won the Magic City Classic.
- April 2: George Wallace announced his retirement from public office.
- Larry DeLucas became Associate Director of UAB's Center for Macromolecular Crystallography.
- Penelope Cunningham succeeded Ted Tibbs as president of the Birmingham Music Club.
- Harold Jackson joined The Birmingham News as an assistant city editor.
- William Maddox began serving as a Governor for the American College of Surgeons.
- Robert Taylor joined the Alabama Forge Council.
- Ethel Hall was elected to the Alabama Board of Education.
- Marvin Engel retired from the Engel Realty Company.
- John Archibald, Greg Garrison and Carol Robinson began working at The Birmingham News
- February 18: Ebonee Benson, Miss Black Alabama USA 2005
- May 16: Drew Roy, actor
- June 3: Darius McClure, minister
- June 4: Colin Peek, football player
- June 15: Montez Billings, football player
- July 16: Mwelu, a male gorilla
- July 18: Walter Sharpe, basketball player
- July 27: DeMarre Carroll, basketball player
- September 5: Breanne Kostyk, restaurant manager
- September 19: Ryan Kussmaul, baseball player
- October 5: Alex McDaniel, magazine editor
- October 21: Natalee Holloway, missing person
- October 30: Desmond Jennings, baseball player
- November 14: Joe Webb, football player
- Valerie Gribben, author
- R. C. Hagans, artist and mixed martial arts fighter
- Architect Jeremy Erdreich from Sidwell Friends School.
- Basketball player Alan Ogg from Gardendale High School.
- Football player Eric Ramsey from Homewood High School.
- Carol Robinson from Auburn University with a bachelor of arts in journalism and public relations.
- Bart Slawson from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law with a juris doctorate.
- Football player Willie Wyatt from Gardendale High School.
- Supreme Court Justict Hugo Black was featured on a U.S. postage stamp.
- Actor Glenn Shadix won an L. A. Weekly award for his portrayal of Gertrude Stein in a stage production of "Faustus Light the Lights".
- Alabama Sports Hall of Fame: Terry Beasley, Bobby Bowden, William Lee, Robert Marlow, Sam Perry, and Ken Stabler
- GBAHB Hall of Fame: Al Awtrey
- May 15: John Bassett, former Birmingham Bulls owner
- August 13: Way Bandy, makeup artist
- August 28: Duke Rumore, radio deejay
- September 1: Asbury Howard, labor and civil rights activist
- September 4: War Eagle V, Auburn University mascot
- October 7: Wallace Wade, Alabama Crimson Tide football coach
- October 22: Frank Spain, attorney, Rotary Club president, and UAB Medical Center supporter
- November 5: Bobby Nunn, doo-wop singer
- November 20: William Bradford Huie, novelist and journalist
- December 2: Paul Bascomb, jazz saxophonist
- Frank Samford Jr, president of Liberty National Life Insurance Company
- See also List of Birmingham homicides in 1986
- Birmingham City Jail
- Five Points South Deck
- First Baptist Church of Birmingham on Lakeshore Drive
- Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility at the University of Alabama
- Harbert Center on 4th Avenue North
- Heatherwood Country Club
- Inverness Country Club Clubhouse (destroyed by fire in 2007)
- Riverchase Galleria
- Southtrust Tower
- WTTO Tower
- Organ installation, St Paul's Cathedral
- Birmingham Fire Station No. 32 (first building, a Quonset hut)
- The Alabama Wurlitzer at Its Best by Tom Hazleton
- Thirteen by Emmylou Harris
- "Don't Go Away" single by the Primitons
- Car Radio Jerome by T. R. Reed
- A Night in East Berlin by Sun Ra and his Cosmo Discipline Arkestra
In 1986, Martin Luther King Jr Day was first observed as a federal holiday. The Chicago Bears won Super Bowl XX. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after take-off. Turner Broadcasting began to colorize black and white movie classics. Halley's Comet visited the inner solar system. The United States bombed targets in Libya. Geraldo Rivera hosted The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault. A reactor at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. Hands Across America createsd a human chain across the U.S. Desmond Tutu became the first black Anglican Church bishop in South Africa. Fox launched as America's fourth television network. The New York Mets won their second World Series.
Notable films of 1986 included Top Gun, Crocodile Dundee, Platoon, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Larry McMurtry won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Lonesome Dove.
Notable births in 1986 included Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf, Lindsay Lohan, Tahj Mowry, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Notable deaths in 1986 included Desi Arnaz, James Cagney, Cary Grant, Benny Goodman, Frank Herbert, L. Ron Hubbard, and Donna Reed.
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