The historic Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson has been a local landmark for decades. The 40-room hotel is known for its hip clientele, great food and vintage style. But the hotel is also famous as the site of one of the most memorable events in Arizona history.
Back in the winter of 1934, Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger – named "Public Enemy Number 01" by the FBI – decided to hide out in Tucson with his gang. However, Dillinger's plan to lay low in the desert literally went up in smoke. Shortly after the Dillinger gang checked into the Hotel Congress, a fire broke out on the third floor of the hotel.
Hotel Congress' Dillinger Days event commemorates the famous capture of bank robber John Dillinger at the hotel back in 1934 — Photo courtesy of Hotel Congress
The Tucson Fire Department was able to put out the fire but became suspicious after noticing the gang's heavy luggage. The firefighters tipped off the police, who apprehended the Dillinger gang shortly thereafter. The Tucson Police Department still has a few of the guns left behind by the gang during the famous arrest.
The Hotel Congress commemorates the capture of the Dillinger gang every year with its Dillinger Days event, which is scheduled to take place this coming year from Friday, Jan. 23, to Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The weekend-long event is expanding in 2015 to include other downtown businesses that will help bring to life the spirit and style of 1930s-era Tucson.
Dillinger Days kicks off on Friday, with a spirited speakeasy charity event. The event will feature live music, whiskey tastings, a pop-up memorabilia museum, a turn-of-the-century magic show, photo booth and gourmet bites from the hotel's restaurant, the Cup Cafe.
The Dillinger Days speakeasy event will also feature a John Dillinger gun show and local craft beer provided by the Borderlands Brewing Company. Tickets to the speakeasy event are $25, with proceeds going to the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation.
The 21-and-older event is limited to only 250 guests, who are encouraged to don their best 1930s-inspired suits, dresses, shoes and hats.
On Saturday, the fun continues with a free, all-day, family-friendly event starting at 9 a.m. The festivities will include reenactments of Dillinger's capture, historical walking tours of downtown Tucson, a vintage car show and lectures by local historians.
Dillinger Days 2015 will also feature an arts and crafts fair and a special visit from the Tucson Fire Department. Kids can shake hands with a real-life firefighter and enjoy free rides on a fire truck. There will also be live music and historical artifacts on display.
Event-goers can also enjoy drinks at the Hotel Congress' Tap Room and grab a bite inside the Cup Cafe. So put on your best vintage trench coat, and head to downtown Tucson for a celebration of Prohibition Era-style and spirit.