Chicago/ Parks & Nature
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Published on January 23, 2024
Chicagoans Rally to Preserve Viral 'Rat Hole' Landmark in Roscoe VillageSource: Google Street View

Chicago's side streets are hardly the place for pilgrimage, but the "Chicago Rat Hole" story has turned the 1900 block of Roscoe Street into an unlikely hot spot. Over the past few weeks, this rat-shaped imprint on the sidewalk became an internet hit after a local comedian, Winslow Dumaine, posted about the landmark, according to Chicago Star Media. Seen by some as a shared memory lane a bit of quirky history, the site has attracted fans and visitors who brought offerings, superficially turning it into a shrine.

However, not everybody in the neighborhood was tickled pink about the viral status of the impression. A recent attempt to 'bury' the famed rat hole with concrete met with impassioned resistance. Concerned locals dug out what some obstructionist tried to solidify over, with one resident using an Illinois license plate to claw back the urban landmark. "As a Chicagoan, I feel the preservation of history is important," Jonathan Howell told NBC Chicago, who was on hand to witness the restoration efforts as they unfolded.

The hole, long a staple of Roscoe Village lore, has various origin stories with some locals attributing it to a squirrel and others to its eponymous rat. Claims have been made on the age of the hole with some dating it back twenty years, sparking debates among residents about the true artisan behind the curious depression. Despite the disagreement, the "rat hole" name persists even though finding out who filled the hole has proven as elusive as the origins of the hole itself.

On TikTok, the event reached viral status with footage showing Chicagoans scraping at the substance with small tools and objects to prevent it from setting. According to NBC Chicago, one woman when asked why the hole was covered said, "Who did this? That's horrible." Already accumulating more than 9 million views.

As for those who now make the pilgrimage to the site, their motivations range from fascination to feeling a connection to the city’s history. Despite the success in partially uncovering the hole, the future of the "Chicago Rat Hole" is uncertain, but the community's spirit shows no signs of subsiding. What started as an offbeat tweet has spiraled into a veritable cultural phenomenon, with residents banding together to protect what many see as a piece of their collective identity.