On this day in 1934, several years into the Great Depression and several years away from its end, infamous gangster, bank robber, and general criminal John Dillinger was killed in Chicago by FBI agents. Dillinger had been playing cat and mouse with police for months—in and out of prisons, Dillinger was the leader of a group that had made off with the government’s arms, escaped prison, killed, and stolen tens of thousands in cash. Ultimately, he was turned in by a madam. According to the FBI, “The events of that sultry July night in Chicago marked the beginning of the end of the Gangster Era.”
Today, 81 years after Dillinger’s death, a new museum in his name is opening in Crown Point, Ind., Dillinger’s home state. According to the museum’s website, this is not a celebration of the criminal, but a tribute to the criminal justice system. The grand opening events include a screening of Public Enemies, a movie about Dillinger’s defeat, and on permanent display will be items like Dillinger’s “death trousers.” Oh, how times have changed.
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