The Story of Hilton

Discover our history.

When Conrad Hilton opened the first hotel to bear the Hilton name in 1925, he aimed to operate the best hotel in Texas. As a result of his commitment, leadership, and innovation, today Hilton is one of the most respected brands in the world.

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Denotes Industry First verified by archivist.


At the direction of Bertha Palmer, the first American “brownie” is created in The Palmer House Hilton kitchen. It is served at the Columbian Exposition World Fair.


Conrad Hilton enters the hotel business in Cisco, Texas. On his way to buy a bank, Hilton purchases The Mobley, a local hotel, instead.


The first hotel formally named a Hilton opens in Dallas, Texas. Elevators, laundry shoots, air shafts and other non-customer facilities are built along the west side of the building so no guest rooms face the western sun. The setting sun can be brutal in summer time Dallas, especially before air-conditioning existed.


Hilton opens its first hotel with cold running water and air- conditioning in the public rooms (Waco Hilton, U.S.A.).


Hilton becomes the first coast-to-coast hotel chain in the United States with the purchase of two hotels in New York City: the Roosevelt and the Plaza.


Hilton Hotels Corporation is formed and listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:HLT), the first hotel company to be listed on the stock exchange.


The Roosevelt Hilton in New York City becomes the first hotel in the world to install televisions in guest rooms.


Hilton becomes the first hotel company to introduce a multi-hotel reservations system, the Inter-Hilton Hotel Reservation System, August 15. This is the beginning of the modern day reservation system.


Hilton International is born, with the opening of the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico. Legendary barman Ramon “Monchito” Marrero creates the Pina Colada later in 1954.

Conrad Hilton appears on the cover of Time magazine, the first hotelier to achieve such recognition. (He appears again on the cover in 1963.)

Conrad Hilton purchases “The Greatest of Them All,” the original Waldorf Astoria in New York, NY.


Conrad Hilton buys Statler Hotel for $111 million, which at the time was the largest real estate deal ever.


Hilton creates its first central reservation office, called HILCRON. Reservations can be made at any Hilton by telephone, telegram, or Teletype.

Hilton begins a multi-million dollar program to air condition every hotel in the Hilton chain.

"Hilton didn't realize it, but they were creating the 12-month convention business for the hotels in Chicago and New York. Today, you expect every hotel to have air conditioning, but that was not the case back then."

Mark Young

Historian and archivist at the University’s Hospitality Industry Archives

Opening of the Hilton Istanbul, the first modern hotel built from the ground up in post- World War II Europe. The landmark property earns its own postal code and stamp.


Barron Hilton introduces the new Hilton Carte Blanche credit card, the premier travel and entertainment card owned by Hilton Hotels.


Hilton pioneers the airport-hotel concept by opening the 380-room San Francisco Airport Hilton.


Hilton International forms as a separate company, with Conrad Hilton as president. Two years later, Conrad Hilton’s son Barron succeeds him as president of the domestic Hilton Hotels Corporation.


Launch of Lady Hilton, the first hotel concept designed exclusively for women travelers. Select hotels feature women-only floors and rooms, and provide special amenities tailored to women.


Trans World Airlines acquires Hilton International. Conrad Hilton resigns his presidency to become chairman.


The first DoubleTree hotel opens in Scottsdale, AZ.