In the 1930s, Hudson furniture became a symbol of New York City’s rising prosperity.
But the company, now part of the U.S. conglomerate Macy’s, was in the process of merging with the struggling Sears and was under investigation for price-fixing.
And in the early 1970s, the company had to be bailed out by the U: A $5 billion bailout was later approved by Congress.
Hudson’s New York headquarters were also the location of a controversial deal, when it was proposed to build a giant Sears Tower at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Madison Street, in what would become the heart of the retail hub.
The deal fell through.
It was the kind of deal that’s still remembered in the Hudson legacy.
But when I walked into the company’s New Jersey headquarters, I wasn’t expecting to find the company at its former glory.
There was a massive, open-air building, a massive hangar and a massive glass-walled cafeteria.
In the early 1980s, Sears was selling about $5.5 billion worth of goods to Walmart and other retailers around the world.
The company was struggling.
Its stock was falling, and it had been forced to borrow billions to pay off debts.
And the company was losing money.
Sears’ revenues were down, and by the end of the decade, its sales were down more than 40 percent.
The company was about to lay off thousands of employees, and as the company struggled to survive, Hudson faced another crisis.
In 1986, the bank bailout was approved, giving Sears $2.5 million to make a loan to Hudson, which it used to finance its massive restructuring plan.
After that, Hudson went into liquidation.
In the mid-1990s, Macy’s acquired the company for $10 billion, and its stock jumped nearly 40 percent in the decade after that.
But that didn’t bring about the kind that Hudson wanted.
Instead, Hudson executives were eager to turn their company into an international brand, so it bought iconic brands like Jaguar and Dodge.
It even bought the world famous Hudson Bridge, a spectacular New York landmark that spans the Hudson River.
So much for a brand.
Today, the iconic Hudson Bridge has a brand name.
It has become a symbol for New York’s future.
Now, Hudson has a new story to tell: it’s a brand, but one that isn’t based in New York.
As part of its deal with Macy’s in the 1990s, it was forced to divest from its Hudson brands, including its flagship stores, as part of a plan to save money.
During that time, Hudson bought the iconic Empire State Building.
And today, the Empire State Tower remains a Hudson brand, with the iconic iconic Hudson bridge as the centerpiece.
This story is part of The Fortune 1000.