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Tucson, Arizona

Hotel Congress

Sleep where gangsters fell amidst smoke and flame, with nary a bullethole to show for the legendary struggle. 

Have a stay in Tucson, Arizona’s Congress Hotel just be warned about two things: one, it is lovely and historic, and two, you may get swept up in some sort of reenactment of John Dillinger’s capture. 

This classic hotel, built in 1919, looks like something straight out of the classiest parts of the Jazz age. Built on the newly paved Congress Street where it still stands, the swanky hotel even looked classy back in the day. Of course all of this splendor in the otherwise developing town managed to attract some high-profile clientele. Including some of ill repute. Namely John Dillinger and his gang.

They were staying in the hotel on the night of January 22, 1934 when a fire started in the hotel. Fleeing for their lives, the outlaws evacuated the building, leaving behind luggage containing their weapons and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. As they had checked in under aliases, they tried to maintain their cover, paying off a couple of local firemen to go back for the luggage. However the firefighters managed to piece together who the ne’er do wells were, and they were swiftly arrested by the Tucson Police Department.

Today the hotel has been restored to a regal splendor that stands out even more in the modern age. To commemorate their brush with crime, the hotel hosts the Dillinger Days festival each January. So if you happen to find yourself at the hotel around then and someone asks you to go get their luggage for them, just say no.   

Contributed by
steedjb
Edited by