Although the architect and builder are unknown, the Brooklyn Building is one of the few remaining late nineteenth century commercial buildings of consequence outside the Pioneer Square Historic District.
Largely a residential street before the Great Fire of 1889, Second Avenue grew to rival First Avenue as the main business thoroughfare in the first decade of the twentieth century. The first mention of the Brooklyn is an 1891 listing in the Polk Directory for the Brooklyn Hotel Mrs. Sarah A. Kinnaman, proprieter, offering furnished rooms. The building owner, George W. Hadfield, maintained a crockery and furniture store on the lower floor until 1895.
In Henry Broderick's Mirrors of Seattle's Old Hotels, he writes, "...after the Great Fire, hotels sprung up, like mushrooms." This construction kept pace with the booming population which rose from 9,786 in 1885 to 80,761 in 1900. The Brooklyn and other residential hotels provided housing for laborers and others who lived and worked in the downtown area. While the upper floors functioned as a residential hotel until 1950, in the ensuing years, the lower floor continued to be occupied by small businesses.