Brookings is a city in Brookings County, South Dakota, United States. Brookings is the fourth largest city in South Dakota, with a population of 22,056 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Brookings County, and home to South Dakota State University, the largest institution of higher education in the state. The mayor is Tim Reed.
The county and the city got their names from one of South Dakota's greatest pioneer promoters, Wilmot Wood Brookings. Brookings set out for the Dakota Territory in June 1857. He arrived at Sioux Falls on August 27, 1857, and became one of the first settlers there. He and his group represented the Western Town Company. After a time in Sioux Falls, Brookings and a companion set out for the Yankton area to locate a town in an area that was soon to be ceded by the Native Americans. This trip was begun in January 1858, and the two soon encountered a blizzard that froze Brookings' feet which both had to be amputated.
Though such a plight would have scared many men from the unsettled Dakota Territory, Brookings was never to be scared away. He rose to a high position in the Territory, once being a member of the Squatter Territorial Legislature and later being elected Squatter Governor. Brookings was a highly respected man with huge amounts of courage, energy, and ability. These traits led Brookings to be appointed superintendent of a road that was to be built from the Minnesota state line west to the Missouri River about 30 miles north of Ft. Pierre. It was during the construction of this road that Brookings came into contact with land that was part of this county at the time. Because of his drive to settle the Dakota Territory, Brookings County and city were named for a spirited pioneer promoter. Wilmot W. Brookings made settlement of this area a real possibility for many people.