Texas-nurtured Hilton Hotels Corporation formed
On this day in 1947, Hilton Hotels was incorporated under Delaware law. It later became the first hotel chain to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1919 Conrad Nicholson Hilton purchased his first hotel, the Mobley, at Cisco, Texas. This was the beginning of a hotel empire built in three stages: first, by leasing and renovating old hotels; next, by building new hotels on leased land, primarily in Texas; and, third, by buying existing hotels at low prices. Hilton opened a new Texas hotel every year between 1925 and 1930 and by the onset of the Great Depression owned a total of eight. Despite efforts to advertise in national magazines, however, he was close to bankruptcy by 1931. Economic hardship lessened nationwide travel and forced him to close his El Paso hotel in 1933. He recovered, with the help of Shearn and William L. Moody, Jr., of Galveston and a number of other investors, and subsequently merged his hotels with the Moodys' operations to form the National Hotel Company, of which he was one-third owner and general manager. The merger failed, however, and in 1934 Hilton resumed his independent operation with five hotels. In 1938 he acquired the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, his first hotel outside of Texas. Hilton later established his corporate headquarters at Beverly Hills, California, and began to expand abroad, starting in Mexico. In all, Conrad Hilton eventually owned 188 hotels in thirty-eight United States cities, including the Shamrock Hotel in Houston, the Mayflower in Washington, the Palmer House in Chicago, and the Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria in New York, and fifty-four hotels abroad.