A total eclipse of the Sun is seen over parts of California and Nevada.
Wovoka experiences a vision leading to the start of the Ghost Dance movement in the Dakotas.
January 4 – An Act to Regulate Appointments in the Marine Hospital Service of the United States is signed by President Grover Cleveland. It establishes a Commissioned Corps of officers as a predecessor to the modern-day U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
January 5 – Preston North End F.C. is declared the winner of the inaugural Football League in England.
January 8 – Herman Hollerith receives a patent for his electric tabulating machine in the United States.
January 15 – The Coca-Cola Company is originally incorporated as the Pemberton Medicine Company in Atlanta, Georgia.
January 22 – Columbia Phonograph is formed in Washington, D.C.
January 30 – Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, and his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera commit a double suicide (or a murder suicide) in the Mayerling hunting lodge.
February 5 – The first issue of Glasgow University Magazine is published.
February 15 – The first issue of La Solidaridad is published.
February 11 – The Meiji Constitution of Japan is adopted; the 1st Diet of Japan convenes in 1890.
February 22 – President Grover Cleveland signs a bill admitting North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington as U.S. states.
March 4 – Benjamin Harrison is sworn in as President of the United States.
March 9 – Yohannes IV, Emperor of Ethiopia, is killed in the Battle of Metemma; Sudanese forces, who had been almost defeated, rally and destroy the Ethiopian army. Yohannes is probably the world's last ruler ever to die in battle. Menelik II proclaims himself as the successor on March 25.
March 11 – The North Carolina Legislature issues a charter for the creation of Elon College.
March 15 – Samoan crisis: German and American warships keep each other at bay in a standoff in Apia harbor, ending when a cyclone blows in and sinks them all.
March 22 – English Association football team Sheffield United F.C. formed at the Adelphi Hotel, Sheffield.
March 23 – Claiming to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad founds the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Punjab Province (British India).
March 31 – The Eiffel Tower is inaugurated (opens May 6). At 300 m, its height exceeds the previous tallest structure in the world by 130 m. Contemporary critics regard it as aesthetically displeasing.
April 1 – Following a failed attempt at a coup, French defense minister Georges Boulanger is forced to flee the country.
April 10 – The Hammarby Roddförening (later Hammarby IF) is founded in Sweden.
April 16 – Charlie Chaplin is born in London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
April 20 – Adolf Hitler is born at Braunau am Inn in Austria-Hungary on the border with Bavaria, a town where his father Alois Hitler is a customs official.
April 22 – At high noon in Oklahoma Territory, thousands rush to claim land in the Land Rush of 1889. Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie are formed, with populations of at least 10,000.
May 2 – Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia, signs a treaty of amity with Italy, giving Italy control over what will become Eritrea.
May 6 – The Exposition Universelle opens in Paris with the Eiffel Tower as its entrance arch. The Galerie des machines, at 111 m, spans the longest interior space in the world at this time.
May 11 – An attack upon a U.S. Army paymaster and escort results in the theft of over $28,000 and the award of two Medals of Honor.
Johnstown Flood: The South Fork Dam collapses in western Pennsylvania, killing more than 2,200 people in and around Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
The Naval Defence Act dictates that the fleet strength of the British Royal Navy must be equal to that of at least any two other countries.
June – Vincent van Gogh paints The Starry Night at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
June 3 – The first long distance electric power transmission line in the United States is completed, running 14 miles (23 km) between a generator at Willamette Falls and downtown Portland, Oregon.
June 6 – The Great Seattle Fire ravages through the downtown area without any fatalities.
June 8 – The Wall Street Journal is established.
June 12 – The Armagh rail disaster near Armagh in the north of Ireland kills 80 people.
June 19 – A Neapolitan baker named Raffaele Esposito invents the Pizza Margherita, named after the queen consort of Italy Margherita of Savoy. This is the forerunner of the modern pizza.
June 29–30 – First Inter-Parliamentary Conference held.
The first issue of The Wall Street Journal is published in New York City.
The last official bare-knuckle boxing title fight ever held (under London Prize Ring Rules) as Heavyweight Champion John L. Sullivan, the "Boston Strong Boy", defeats Jake Kilrain in a world championship bout lasting 75 rounds in Mississippi.
July 14 – International Workers Congresses of Paris open and establish the Second International.
July 31 – Louise, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom, marries Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife.
August 3 – Mahdist War: Egyptian and British victory at the Battle of Toski.
August 4 – The Great Fire of Spokane, Washington destroys some 32 blocks of the city, prompting a mass rebuilding project.
August 6 – The Savoy Hotel in London opens.
August 10 – At the Vienna Hofburg, the grand opening ceremony is held for the Imperial Natural History Museum (German: K.k. Naturhistorisches Hofmuseum), begun in 1871; from August 13 to the end of December, the museum counts 175,000 visitors.
August 14–September 15 – London Dock Strike: Dockers strike for a minimum wage of sixpence an hour ("The dockers' tanner"), which they eventually receive, a landmark in the development of New Unionism in Britain.
August 26 – The Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Children Act, commonly known as the Children's Charter, is passed in the United Kingdom; for the first time it imposes criminal penalties to deter child abuse.
August 30 – Official opening of Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Sorting Office in London.
August – The Jewish Settlement of Moisés Ville is founded in Argentina.
September 10 – Albert Honoré Charles Grimaldi becomes Albert I, Prince of Monaco.
September 17 – Civil War veteran Charles Jefferson Wright founds New York Military Academy with 75 students on 30 acres (120,000 m2) of land in Cornwall, New York.
September 23 – The Nintendo Koppai (Later Nintendo Company, Limited) is founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce and market Hanafuda playing cards.
October 2 – In Washington, D.C., the first International Conference of American States begins.
October 6 – The Moulin Rouge cabaret opens in Paris.
October 12 – Gustaf Åkerhielm, previously Swedish Foreign Minister, replaces Gillis Bildt as Prime Minister of Sweden.
October 24 – Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales, delivers the Tenterfield Oration calling for the Federation of Australia.
October 29 – British South Africa Company receives a Royal Charter.
November – The first free elections are held in Costa Rica.
North Dakota and South Dakota are admitted as the 39th and 40th U.S. states, respectively.
English Association football team Wimbledon F.C. play their first match.
November 8 – Montana is admitted as the 41st U.S. state.
November 11 – Washington is admitted as the 42nd U.S. state.
November 14 – Inspired by Jules Verne, pioneer woman journalist Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) begins an attempt to beat travel around the world in less than 80 days (Bly finishes the journey in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes).
November 15 – Field Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca organizes a military coup which deposes Emperor Pedro II of Brazil and abolishes the Brazilian monarchy. Deodoro da Fonseca proclaims Brazil a Republic and forms a Provisional Government.
November 17 – The Brazilian Imperial Family is forced into exile in France.
November 19 – The modern-day flag of Brazil is adopted by the Provisional Government of the Republic.
Argentina is the first country to recognize the abolition of the monarchy in Brazil.
Gustav Mahler premieres his Symphony No. 1, in Budapest.
November 23 – The first jukebox goes into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.
November 27 – Clemson University is founded in Clemson, South Carolina.
December 4 – The Bayswater Railway Station (Victoria, Australia) officially opens.
December 14 – Wofford and Furman play the first intercollegiate football game in the state of South Carolina.
December 23 – The Spanish football team Recreativo de Huelva is formed (the oldest club in Spain by the 21st century).
An early method of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission as developed by the Swiss engineer René Thury is implemented commercially in Italy by the Acquedotto de Ferrari-Galliera company. This system transmits 630 kW at 14 kV DC over a distance of 120 km.
The first West Virginia tornado is recorded.
The Wisden Cricketers' Almanack publishes its first Wisden Cricketers of the Year (actually titled Six Great Bowlers Of The Year). The cricketers chosen are George Lohmann, Bobby Peel, Johnny Briggs, Charles Turner, John Ferris and Sammy Woods.
Frederick Abel invents cordite.
Influenza pandemic originates in Russia.
Yellow fever interrupts the building of the Panama Canal.
A huge locust swarm crosses the Red Sea and destroys crops in the Nile Valley.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge (the longest suspension foot-bridge in the world) is opened.
Brook trout is introduced into the upper Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park.
Schools founded include:
Plattsburgh Normal School (Plattsburgh, New York)
Riverside Elementary School (Wichita, Kansas)
Battle Ground Academy Franklin, Tennessee
The Indian Religious Code is created which forbids Native Americans to practice their religions.
Samuel Marinus Zwemer co-founds the American Arabian Mission
January 2 – Walter Baldwin, American actor (d. 1977)
January 12 – Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad, 2nd Caliph of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Islam (d. 1965)
January 21 – Edith Bratt, English wife of J. R. R. Tolkien (d. 1971)
January 31 – Frank Foster, English cricketer (d. 1958)
February 2 – Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, French general, posthumous Marshal of France (d. 1952)
February 3 – Risto Ryti, Prime Minister and President of Finland (d. 1956)
February 5 – Ernest Tyldesley, English cricketer (d. 1962)
February 7 – Harry Nyquist, Swedish-American contributor to information theory (d. 1976)
February 11 – John H. Mills, Sr., African-American singer, one of the Mills Brothers (d. 1967)
Edward Hanson, 28th Governor of American Samoa (d. 1959)
Marjorie Newell Robb, RMS Titanic survivor (d. 1992)
February 16 – Hawthorne C. Gray, record-setting American balloonist (d. 1927)
February 19 – Ernest Marsden, British physicist (d. 1970)
Lady Olave Baden-Powell, English founder of the Girl Guides (d. 1977)
R. G. Collingwood, British philosopher and historian (d. 1943)
February 23 – Victor Fleming, American motion picture director, (d. 1949)
February 24 – Suzanne Bianchetti, French actress (d. 1936)
February 25 – Homer S. Ferguson, American politician (d. 1982)
Kanoko Okamoto, Japanese novelist, poet, and Buddhism scholar (d. 1939)
Watsuji Tetsuro, Japanese philosopher (d. 1960)
Oren E. Long, 10th Territorial Governor of Hawai'i (d. 1965)
Pearl White, American silent film actress (d. 1938)
March 6 – William D. Francis, Australian botanist (d. 1959)
March 7 – Godfrey Chevalier, American naval aviation pioneer (d. 1922)
March 15 – Hiroaki Abe, Japanese admiral (d. 1949)
March 16 – Reggie Walker, South African athlete (d. 1951)
March 21 – Aleksandr Vertinsky, Russian singer and actor (d. 1957)
March 24 – Albert Hill, British athlete (d. 1969)
March 29 – Warner Baxter, American actor (d. 1951)
March 30 – Herman Bing, German-American character actor and voice actor (d. 1947)
March 31 – Muriel Hazel Wright, noted Oklahoma author and historian (d. 1975)
Hans-Jürgen von Arnim, German general (d. 1962)
Angelo Iachino, Italian admiral (d. 1976)
April 7 – Gabriela Mistral, Chilean writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1957)
Adrian Boult, English conductor (d. 1983)
Tomoshige Samejima, Japanese admiral (d. 1966)
Nick LaRocca, American musician (d. 1961)
Aketo Nakamura, Japanese general (d. 1966)
April 14 – Arnold J. Toynbee, British historian (d. 1975)
April 15 – Thomas Hart Benton, American painter (d. 1975)
April 16 – Charlie Chaplin, English actor and film director (d. 1977)
April 18 – Harold Saxton Burr, American scientist (d. 1973)
April 20 – Adolf Hitler, Austrian-born dictator of Nazi Germany (d. 1945)
Paul Karrer, Swiss chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1971)
Manuel Prado y Ugarteche, former President of Peru (d. 1967)
April 23 – Karel Doorman, Dutch admiral (d. 1942)
April 26 – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-born philosopher (d. 1951)
Takeo Kurita, Japanese admiral (d. 1977)
António de Oliveira Salazar, Portuguese dictator (d. 1970)
April 30 – Fritz Pfeffer, German-Dutch housemate of Anne Frank (d. 1944)
May 12 – Otto Frank, German publisher, businessman, father of Anne Frank (d. 1980)
May 18 – Thomas Midgley, Jr., American chemist and inventor (d. 1944)
May 21 – Bernard Rawlings, British admiral (d. 1962)
Günther Lütjens, German admiral (d. 1941)
Igor Sikorsky, Russian developer of the helicopter (d. 1972)
June 2 – Martha Wentworth, American actress (d. 1974)
Beno Gutenberg, German-American seismologist (d. 1960)
Henry F. Phillips, American businessman and inventor (d. 1958)
June 10 – Sessue Hayakawa, Japanese actor (d. 1973)
June 13 – Adolphe Pégoud, French acrobatic pilot and World War I fighter ace (d. 1915)
June 21 – Ralph Craig, American athlete (d. 1972)
June 23 – Anna Akhmatova, Russian poet (d. 1966)
June 25 – John Morton-Finney, American civil rights activist, lawyer and educator (d. 1998)
June 27 – Moroni Olsen, American actor (d. 1954)
July 3 – Richard Cramer, American actor (d. 1960)
July 5 – Jean Cocteau, French writer (d. 1963)
July 6 – Takeo Itō, Japanese general (d. 1965)
July 7 – Shiro Kawase, Japanese admiral (d. 1946)
July 13 – Emma Asson, Estonian politician (d. 1965)
July 17 – Erle Stanley Gardner, American author (d. 1970)
July 22 – Tony Jannus, American aviator and aircraft designer (d. 1916)
July 24 – Murray Kinnell, English actor (d. 1954)
August 5 – Conrad Aiken, American writer (d. 1973)
August 6 – George Kenney, World War II United States Army Air Forces general (d. 1977)
August 10 – Norman Scott, American admiral and Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1942)
August 11 – William Ronald Dodds Fairbairn Scottish psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and a central figure in the development of the object relations theory of psychoanalysis. (d. 1942)
August 12 – Zerna Sharp, American writer and educator (Dick and Jane) (d. 1981)
August 21 – Sir Richard O'Connor, British general in World War II (d. 1981)
August 29 – Joseph Egger, Austrian character actor (d. 1966)
September 2 – George H. Plympton, American screenwriter (d. 1972)
September 7 – Albert Plesman, Dutch aviation pioneer (d. 1953)
September 8 – Robert A. Taft, U.S. Senator from Ohio (d. 1953)
September 11 – Suzanne Duchamp, French painter (d. 1963)
September 12 – Ugo Pasquale Mifsud, 3rd Prime Minister of Malta (d. 1942)
September 13 – Masao Maruyama, Japanese general (d. 1957)
September 14 – María Capovilla, Ecuadorian supercentenarian, the last surviving person verified as born in 1889 (d. 2006)
September 18 – Doris Blackburn, Australian politician (d. 1970)
September 20 – Charles Reidpath, American athlete (d. 1975)
September 25 – C. K. Scott-Moncrieff, Scottish writer and translator (d. 1930)
September 26 – Martin Heidegger, German philosopher (d. 1976)
October 1 – Charles Hurlbut "Dutch" Sterrett, American professional baseball player (d. 1965)
October 3 – Carl von Ossietzky, German pacifist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1938)
October 8 – C. E. Woolman, American airline executive (d. 1966)
October 12 – Troy H. Middleton, American general and educator (d. 1976)
Douglass Dumbrille, Canadian-born actor (d. 1974)
Cedric Holland, British admiral (d. 1950)
November 1 – Philip Noel-Baker, Baron Noel-Baker, Canadian-born peace activist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1982)
November 10 – Claude Rains, English stage and film actor (d. 1967)
November 12 – DeWitt Wallace, American magazine publisher (Reader's Digest) (d. 1981)
November 14 – Jawaharlal Nehru, 1st Prime Minister of India (d. 1964)
November 16 – George S. Kaufman, American playwright (d. 1961)
November 18 – Zoltán Tildy, President of Hungary (d. 1961)
Vasily Blyukher, Soviet military commander (d. 1938)
Clifton Webb, American actor, dancer, and singer (d. 1966)
November 20 – Edwin Hubble, American astronomer (d. 1953)
Harry Sunderland, Australian rugby league administrator (d. 1964)
Alexander Patch, American general (d. 1945)
November 25 – George McMillin, American admiral, last Naval Governor of Guam (d. 1983)
Edgar Douglas Adrian, 1st Baron Adrian, English physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1977)
Reuvein Margolies, Austrian-Hungarian-born Israeli author and Talmudic scholar (d. 1971)
Shōji Nishimura, Japanese admiral (d. 1944)
December 3 – Walton Walker, American general (d. 1950)
December 4 – Isabel Randolph, American actress (d. 1973)
December 7 – Gabriel Marcel, French philosopher and playwright (d. 1973)
Hannes Kolehmainen, Finnish runner (d. 1966)
Shigeyoshi Inoue, Japanese admiral (d. 1975)
December 11 – Walter Knott, American farmer and creator of Knott's Berry Farm (d. 1981)
December 23 – Daniel E. Barbey, American admiral (d. 1969)
Dr. Rai Rajeshwar Bali, Indian intellectual reformist (d. 1945)
James Alexander Allan, Australian poet (d. 1956)
Marthe Richard, French prostitute, spy, and politician (d. 1982)
Jeanne de Salzmann, Russian pupil of G. I. Gurdjieff (d. 1990)
Reşit Süreyya Gürsey, Turkish intellectual, MD and physicist (d.1962)
January 13 – Solomon Bundy, American politician (b. 1823)
Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (suicide) (b. 1858)
Baroness Mary Vetsera (suicide) (b. 1871)
February 3 – Belle Starr, American outlaw (b. 1848)
February 13 – João Maurício Vanderlei, Brazilian magistrate and politician (b. 1815)
March 8 – John Ericsson, Swedish inventor and engineer (b. 1803)
March 9 – Emperor Yohannes IV of Ethiopia (b. 1837)
March 13 – Felice Varesi, French-born Italian baritone (b. 1813)
March 24 – The Leatherman, possibly French-Canadian vagabond in the U.S. (b. c. 1839)
April 7 – Youssef Bey Karam, Lebanese nationalist leader (b. 1823)
April 15 – Father Damien, Belgian missionary to Hawaiians with leprosy (b. 1840)
April 23 – Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, French writer (b. 1808)
May 9 – William S. Harney, U.S. Army general (b. 1800)
May 14 – Volney E. Howard, American politician (b. 1809)
May 12 – Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Russian satirist (b. 1826)
June 8 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet (b. 1844)
June 10 – Abraham Hochmuth, Hungarian rabbi (b. 1816)
June 15 – Mihai Eminescu, Romanian poet (b. 1850)
June 25 – Lucy Webb Hayes, First Lady of the United States (b. 1831)
July 7 – Giovanni Bottesini, Italian conductor, composer, and virtuoso double bass player (b. 1821)
July 10 – Julia Gardiner Tyler, First Lady of the United States (b. 1820)
August 2 – Eduardo Gutiérrez, Argentinian author (b. 1851)
August 19 – Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, French writer (b. 1838)
September 16 – Bob Younger, American outlaw and youngest of the Younger outlaws
September 23 – Wilkie Collins, British novelist (b. 1824)
September 24 – Charles Leroux, American balloonist and parachutist (b. 1856)
October 10 – Adolf von Henselt, German composer
October 11 – James Prescott Joule, English physicist (b. 1818)
October 17 – Rodrigo Augusto da Silva, Brazilian Senator and author of the Golden Law (b. 1833)
October 19 – King Luís I of Portugal (b. 1838)
October 25 – Émile Augier, French dramatist (b. 1820)
November 18 – William Allingham, Irish author (b. 1824 or 1828)
December 6 – Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America (b. 1808)
December 12 – Robert Browning, English poet (b. 1812)
Glele, King of Dahomey (suicide)
Priscilla Cooper Tyler, de facto First Lady of the United States (b. 1816)
December 31 – Ion Creangă, Romanian writer (b. 1837 or 1839)
Warren Felt Evans, American writer (b. 1817)
Little Raven (Arapaho leader), Southern Arapaho Indian chief (b. c. 1810)
Amalia Assur, Swedish dentist (b. 1803)
1889 (MDCCCLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (dominical letter F) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday (dominical letter A) of the Julian calendar, the 1889th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 889th year of the 2nd millennium, the 89th year of the 19th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1880s decade. As of the start of 1889, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.