Dillinger Days!

As Tucson prepares for the annual Dillinger Days, we thought we’d share what we have – or rather, what we don’t have – in the archives. dillinger

But first, the Dillinger back story. John Herbert Dillinger was a well-known Depression-era gangster who operated a group called the “Dillinger Gang,” a notorious group wanted for robbing 24 banks, four police stations, and was charged with the murder of an Indiana police officer. Dillinger was also famous for escaping jail twice, and found his way to Tucson to lay low after the gang’s crime sprees.

The group was spending some time at Hotel Congress, but on January 22, 1934, their plans to hide out were interrupted. A fire started in the basement of the hotel, and following an evacuation, Tucson firefighters retrieved nearly $24,000 in cash stowed away in heavy suitcases. The firemen recognized the gang from True Detective Magazine, tipped off local police, and they were able to capture the gang members on North Second Avenue. Dillinger was extradited to Indiana, where he was placed in jail and escaped once again! In July of 1934, Dillinger met his demise at the hands of Chicago Police, who shot and killed him outside of the Biograph Theater. Hotel Congress still observes the illustrious gangster’s stay in their hotel with a weekend of Speakeasy fun!


A Spanish Language Newspaper, El Tucsonense, reported on the capture of Dillinger.


And now the archives part. A few years ago, we received some microfilm from the Tucson Police Department containing several years of police reports. We were able to locate the police report sheets for all of Dillinger’s accomplices, but the sheet for Dillinger was mysteriously missing from the roll of film! The suspense continues. Have fun at Dillinger Days if you make it this weekend! dillinger-and-gang0001 dillinger-and-gang0002 dillinger-and-gang0003 dillinger-and-gang0004 dillinger-and-gang0005 dillinger-and-gang0006 dillinger-and-gang0007 dillinger-and-gang0008