She was launched 2 October 1895 by William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; sponsored by Miss Ida May Schieren; and commissioned 1 December 1896, Captain F. A. Cook in command.
Brooklyn's first assignment was a special cruise to Great Britain with representatives of the United States for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The cruiser returned to the east coast in July 1897 and cruised there and in the West Indies until becoming flagship of the Flying Squadron under Commodore W. S. Schley, 28 March 1898.
During the Spanish-American War, the Flying Squadron arrived at Cienfuegos, Cuba 21 May 1898 and established the blockade of that port. On 26 May the Squadron arrived at Santiago, Cuba, where the Spanish Fleet was being held behind the protection of the forts. Brooklyn was a key vessel in the Battle of Santiago (3 July 1898) in which the Spanish Fleet was destroyed. Although she was struck 20 times by whole shot, Brooklyn suffered only one man wounded (J. Bevins) and one man killed (George E Ellis).
Brooklyn returned to Tompkinsville, New York, 20 August 1898; cruised along the Atlantic coast and in Caribbean waters; participated in the Spanish-American War Victory Celebration at New York 5 October 1898; and in the Dewey Celebration at New York in September 1899. She left Hampton Roads on 16 October 1899 and sailed via the Suez Canal to Manila, Philippine Islands, where she arrived 16 December 1899. She became flagship of the Asiatic Squadron and participated in the North China Relief Expedition (8 July-11 October 1900) and made a cruise to Australia and the Dutch East Indies (10 April-7 August 1901). She remained with the Asiatic Squadron until 1 March 1902, when she sailed for the United States via the Suez Canal and arrived at New York Navy Yard 1 May.
On 20 May 1902 Brooklyn was at Havana, Cuba for the ceremonies to transfer the authority on that Island from the United States Government to the Cuban Government. During June and July she was on special duty in connection with the obsequies of the late British Ambassador to the United States, Lord Pauncefote. During the next four years she cruised with the North Atlantic Fleet and the European Squadron, returning to New York 26 May 1905. On 7 June 1905, as flagship of Rear Admiral C. D. Sigsbee, she sailed for Cherbourg, France, where the remains of the late John Paul Jones were received aboard and brought to America. Upon arrival at Annapolis, Commodore Jones' remains were transferred ashore to a receiving vault at the United States Naval Academy with appropriate ceremonies 23 July 1905.
On 16 May 1906, following a naval militia cruise (3-23 August 1905) and a tour in the Mediterranean (28 December 1905-8 May 1906), Brooklyn went into reserve at League Island Navy Yard. Except for a short period (30 June-2 August 1906) in commission for special service at Havana, Cuba, she remained in reserve until the spring of 1907. During 12 April-4 December 1907 Brooklyn served as part of the permanent display at the Jamestown Exposition, Jamestown, Virginia. Following her return to Philadelphia, Brooklyn went into reserve 21 December 1907.
Placed out of commission 23 June 1908, she was commissioned in ordinary 2 March 1914. She was assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and served as receiving ship at Boston Navy Yard (24 July 1914-13 March 1916). She was placed in full commission at Philadelphia 9 May 1915 and served on Neutrality Patrol around Boston Harbor until November, when she sailed to the Asiatic Station where she served as flagship for the Commander-in-Chief. She attended to regular military and diplomatic duties in China, Japan, and Russia until September 1919 when she became the flagship of Commander, Division 1, Asiatic Fleet. In January 1920 she was assigned to the Pacific Fleet as flagship of Commander, Destroyer Squadrons, and remained there until 15 January 1921. Brooklyn was placed out of commission at Mare Island Navy Yard 9 March 1921 and sold 20 December 1921.
This article includes information collected from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.