1888 was the 17th year after the founding of the City of Birmingham.
- March: Basil Allen organized the Birmingham Lodge No. 79 of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.
- Summer: Giuseppe Moretti first moved to the United States, arriving in New York.
- September 1: Joseph Smith succeeded Samuel Truss as Jefferson County sheriff.
- October: Sloss Furnace No. 3 was blown in.
- October 23: Hospital of United Charity opened on Southside.
- October 31: South Highland Presbyterian Church was organized
- November: President Grover Cleveland visited Birmingham.
- December 4: The body of May Hawes was found floating in East Lake by two boaters.
- December 8: Sheriff's deputies fired into a rioting crowd at the Jefferson County Jail where Richard Hawes was being held, killing approximately 10.
- December 20: The Bessemer Journal published a call to create a new "Bessemer County".
- John Hearst Miller began his law practice in Birmingham.
- The town of Oneonta was given its name as the Birmingham Mineral Railroad was constructed through it.
- Benjamin Franklin Riley accepted the presidency of Howard College.
- B. A. Thompson succeeded Judge A. O. Lane as Mayor of Birmingham.
- Woodlawn Presbyterian Church was founded.
- February 1: Buffalo Rock founder Sid Lee moved to Birmingham.
- March 8: The Birmingham District's first locally-produced steel was made by the Henderson Steel & Manufacturing Company.
- March 14: Rufus Rhodes published the first edition of the Birmingham Evening News.
- April 9: Ensley Furnace No. 4 was blown in.
- May 15: Thomas Furnace No. 1 was blown in.
- June 5: Ensley Furnace No. 3 was blown in.
- June: Bessemer Furnace No. 1 was blown in.
- June 20: The Birmingham Trust & Savings Co. moved into their first permanent offices in the Elyton Land Co. building on 20th Street North.
- July 1: Attorneys H. Weaver and M. M. Smith partnered as Weaver & Smith.
- November 8: The Daily Age and Daily Herald merged to form the Birmingham Age-Herald.
- December 1: Ensley Furnace No. 2 was blown in.
- William Berney became president of the Bessemer Land and Improvement Company.
- Sigfried and Burghard Steiner founded the Steiner Brothers Bank.
- Raleigh Jenkins Sr founded the Jenkins Lumber Company.
- Herman Schoel founded the firm now known as the Walter Schoel Engineering Company.
- R. Rochester opened the massive W.K.T.B. grocery store in the Hood Building.
- Henry Milner became a junior partner in the Milner & Kettig Company.
- George Wheelock founded the George F. Wheelock Co. as a sheet metal fabricator.
- Bethel A.M.E. Church was founded in Rosedale.
- Carbon HIll Methodist Church was founded.
- Harmony Street Baptist Church was established.
- The Georgia Pacific Railroad hired James Weatherly as its full-time assistant general counsel.
- Arthur Brown graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
- January 15: James Esdale, Grand Dragon of the Realm of Alabama in the Ku Klux Klan
- March 16: Don Buel Schuyler, architect
- April 5: Raymond Rochell, Grapico bottler
- June 30: Houston Brice, Sr, contractor
- September 1: Clement Wood, attorney, poet and writer
- October 8: Owen Gresham, Jefferson County School Board member
- Oscar Adams Sr, AME Zion minister and Birmingham Reporter publisher
- George Bender, Tutwiler Hotel assistant manager
- Clarence Going, assistant superintendent of Birmingham City Schools
- December 27: Civil engineer William Starbuck to Belle Cooper.
- Mary Pratt DeBardeleben to attorney Walker Percy.
- June 29: T. L. Hudgins, merchant and banker
- July 19: Liza Montgomery, 19, the first person to be buried in Red Mountain Cemetery.
- August 18: John Westbrook, farmer, merchant, and entrepreneur
- December 1: Emma Hawes, May Hawes, Irene Hawes, murder victims
- December 8: Maurice Throckmorton, postmaster
- Elisha Peck, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice
- See also: List of Birmingham homicides in 1888.
- 1918 3rd Avenue North
- Birmingham Free School
- Birmingham Water Works Tunnel was dug through Red Mountain
- Ensley Works, Thomas Furnace and Bessemer Furnaces went into blast.
- Hood Building
- McAdory Building on 1st Avenue North and Morris Avenue.
- Magic City Hotel on 14th Street North and Morris Avenue.
- Trevillick was laid out as a cooperative worker's community.
- First Watts Building (demolished 1927)
- A new building for First Presbyterian Church was completed.
- Construction of the Morris Block began.
- Foundations for Howard College's "Old Main" were begun.
1888 was a leap year. It was the year of the invention of the ball-point pen and typewriter ribbon. The National Geographic Society was founded. Jack the Ripper terrorized London. A March blizzard was blamed for more than 400 deaths on the Atlantic seaboard. The Washington Monument opened in October. Benjamin Harrison took the electoral college to defeat popular vote leader Grover Cleveland in the presidential election.
Notable books published in 1888 included Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood, The Aspern Papers by Henry James, The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling, and The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson. Notable music released included "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" possibly by Thomas F. Casey, "Over The Waves" ("Sobre las Olas") by Juventino Rosas, Symphony in D Minor by César Franck, and comic opera The Yeomen of the Guard by Gilbert and Sullivan.
Notable births in 1888 included aviation pioneer Thomas Sopwith, folk singer Lead Belly, football coach Knute Rockne, writer Anita Loos, composer Max Steiner, composer Irving Berlin, athlete Jim Thorpe, novelist Raymond Chandler, British army officer T. E. Lawrence a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia, singer and actor Maurice Chevalier, writer T. S. Eliot, comedian Harpo Marx, and actress Gladys Cooper. Notables deaths included novelist Louisa May Alcott, German Emperor Wilhelm I, Chief Justice Morrison Waite, German Emperor Friedrich III, Union general Philip Sheridan, and Coca-Cola creator John Pemberton.
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