New exhibit highlights history of Dayton police during Prohibition

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – 100 years ago today, the United States passed The Volstead Act, which ushered in the new era of Prohibition and saw the rise of crime and outlaws. 

To commemorate that history, Carillon Historical Park partnered with the Dayton Police History Foundation to create a just-opened exhibit titled “Bootleggers, Bandits, and Badges: From Dry Times to Hard Times in Dayton, Ohio.”

The space focuses on several aspects of life in the 1920’s, showcasing incidents and artifacts specific to Dayton. 

The three-part themes of the exhibit are the Temperance movement, Prohibition bootlegging, and Great Depression heists.

Highlights of the exhibit include items related to nationally renowned criminals such as John Dillinger. Dillinger was arrested in Dayton and artifacts such as his gun and the handcuffs placed on his wrist can be viewed. 

The exhibit also features multiple vehicles, including a classic Model T truck that has been restored and converted to show how crates of booze were smuggled throughout the area. 

In the WDTN.com Web Exclusive, view my walk-through of the space in the video below: 

“People keep returning to this era because its just outside of living memory,” said Alex Heckman, Carillon Park’s VP of museum operations. “Most people today don’t have any memories of living through the Roaring 20’s. It’s just beyond our lived experience today.”

Heckman said that by making something most people wanted – alcohol – illegal, that the demand of it gave way to a huge spike in crime and arrests. 

The period is also heavily glamorized by literature such as “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Illegal alcohol forced the creations of Speakeasies. Flapper girls were on the rise. Automobiles were expanding. Race relations were at some of their darkest points.

All of this, and more, from the era can be examined throughout the exhibit, which is set to run until 2021. 

For more information on hours and rates, contact Carillon Historical Park.   

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