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Best known as where gangster and bank robber John Dillinger was captured, Hotel Congress has a rich history. Since 1918, it has been an anchor in downtown Tucson. Offering a charming peek into the past, the hotel retains much of its original charm and decor to this day.
Hotel Congress was originally referred to as the "new hotel" or "flatiron building" until a contest sponsored by a local newspaper settled on a permanent moniker. Among the many entries, four people suggested Hotel Congress. Their names were placed in a hat, and the ultimate winner received $15 in baby bonds.
In 1934, a large fire broke out at the hotel. Guests scrambled to grab their belongings and escape. Some, not realizing the magnitude of the flames, had to go down outside ladders or be rescued through the window. It was during this fire that the legendary Dillinger gang was discovered and apprehended. Dillinger Days, featuring reenactments of the fire and capture, have been held here since 1994.
Today, the Hotel Congress features 40 rooms that haven't changed a lot since the days of the Dillinger gang. Instead of televisions, rooms are equipped with vintage radios and old school rotary phones that connect to an honest-to-goodness switchboard. Guests sleep on iron beds and a pair of wooden phone booths grace the lobby. There are rumored to be a few friendly ghosts on the premises, like the dapper gentleman in a top hat who ambles into the office occasionally.
Hotel Congress added a now-beloved music venue, Club Congress, in 1985. It is said to be the ZZ Top guitarist's favorite bar. There are three other bars in the hotel, including the Tap Room and Cybar. Colorful murals line the walls while the brightly lit neon sign beckons to all outside. Whatever you decide to photograph here, pair the historical with the whimsical at Hotel Congress for a winning Instagram post.
Cover photo credit: hotelcongress via Instagram