1885 was the 14th year after the founding of the City of Birmingham.
- The community of Calera organized its first high school.
- The town of Morris was incorporated.
- Construction of the Highland Avenue & Belt Railroad began.
- Powell School graduated its first senior class.
- May 19: A shootout between Henry Barnard and William Bradley began at Barnard's Billiard Parlor and ended at Wise's Saloon.
- June 12: Commencement exercises for Birmingham High School were held at O'Brien's Opera House.
- July 17: A natural gas explosion in the Ellen Shaft nearly killed engineer Llewellyn Johns and his assistants J. G. Moore and William Faul.
- August 31: The Earle Post Office was renamed "Dolomite Post Office".
- September: The first professional Birmingham Fire Department was organized, with City Marshal Frank Gafford as chief.
- March 26: Central Bank of Birmingham was founded by William Berney.
- April 9: The first commercial batch of lager beer from Philipp Schillinger's Birmingham Brewery was sold.
- June 13: Charles Williamson and James Simpson incorporated the Williamson Iron Co.
- J. Blach & Sons was founded by Julius Blach.
- The City Market was developed by George Raps.
- The Sloss Furnace Company was sold to investors by Colonel James Withers Sloss and became the Sloss Iron & Steel Company.
- William Walker Jr served 10 months as president of the First National Bank of Birmingham.
- Christian Enslen founded the Jefferson County Savings Bank.
- J. H. Lee founded the Excelsior Laundry.
- April: The congregation of First Christian Church reorganized.
- May 3: Oak Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in Oak Grove.
- October 11: Dolomite Baptist Church was organized.
- Isaac Hochstadter became president of Temple Emanu-El.
- David Purser became pastor of First Baptist Church of Birmingham.
- Warrior Baptist Church and West End Baptist Church were founded.
- The Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed.
- January 15: Samuel R. Truss became Jefferson County Sheriff.
- Isaac Beatty, Jr and his parents moved to Birmingham.
- Mary Cahalan became principal of the Free School.
- Russell Cunningham was hired by TCI to serve a physician and surgeon for the Ensley Works.
- Jabez Curry became the U.S. Ambassador to Spain.
- Charles Drennen and his family moved to Birmingham.
- John Inman became director of the L & N Mineral Railroad.
- Brothers L. Y., S. W. and H. P. Lipscomb settled in the area that would later bear their name.
- Nathaniel Lupton was appointed Alabama State Chemist.
- Photographer A. C. Oxford retired to Blount Springs.
- Attorney John Terry resigned from the practice of law.
- Architect W. W. Rose moved to Birmingham.
- Attorney William Ward moved to Birmingham from Selma.
- William Weston and his immediate family emigrated to the United States.
- January 17: Chris Jordan, professional wrestler and wrestling promoter
- February 9: Hugh Locke, attorney and Birmingham School of Law founder
- March 6: Wash Bishop, Jefferson County Commission chair
- May 11: Newton Price, principal of West End High School
- May 27: Gus Jebeles, Birmingham Barons owner
- June 22: Martha Fort Anderson, artist
- July 28: Ivory Williams, bandleader and union organizer
- August 10: Lonnie Noojin, coach
- August 25: Harry Hawkins, artist and interior designer
- September 17: Harley Gilmore, principal of Hueytown High School
- December 1: Paul Pim, cartoonist
- Malcolm Dabney, dentist
- Alburto Throckmorton
- Brother Bryan from University of North Carolina
- C. Travis Drennen from Rush Medical College
- Robert Thach from Alabama Polytechnic Institute
- Avondale Brewing Company building
- Berney National Bank building
- Cowart Drug Company Building
- McLester & Van Hoose warehouse
- November 3: The cornerstone of the Paul Hayne School was laid.
In 1885, the first successful appendectomy was performed by Dr. William W. Grant on Mary Gartside. L.A. Thompson patented the roller coaster. The Washington Monument was dedicated. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company was incorporated. Grover Cleveland succeeded Chester A. Arthur as President of the United States. Good Housekeeping Magazine first went on sale. Louis Pasteur successfully tested his vaccine against rabies. Niagara Falls opened to the public. Dr Pepper was first served.
Notable books published in 1885 included King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard, Marius the Epicurean by Walter Pater, and The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night translated by Sir Richard Francis Burton. Notable music released in 1885 included The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan, "American Patrol" by F. W. Meacham, and the Manfred Symphony by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Notable births in 1885 included composer Jerome Kern, writer Sinclair Lewis, actor Wallace Beery, baseball pitcher Vean Gregg, columnist Hedda Hopper, actor Gabby Hayes, film producer Louis B. Mayer, writer D. H. Lawrence, physicist Niels Bohr, poet Ezra Pound, writer Will Durant, and General George S. Patton. Deaths included writer Victor Hugo, former president Ulysses S. Grant, Jumbo the elephant, Civil War general George B. McClellan, scientist Thomas Andrews, and businessman William Henry Vanderbilt.
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