Chicago's 'rat hole' removed after city determines sidewalk with animal impression was damaged

The imprint has been a quirk in the neighborhood of Roscoe Village for years, but it found fresh fame in January after a Chicago comedian shared a photo on the social platform X.
Chicago's iconic Rat Hole
Posted at 7:11 PM, Apr 24, 2024

The “rat hole” is gone.

A Chicago sidewalk landmark some residents affectionately called the “rat hole" was removed Wednesday after city officials determined the section bearing the imprint of an animal was damaged and needed to be replaced, officials said.

The imprint has been a quirk of a residential block in Chicago’s North Side neighborhood of Roscoe Village for years, but it found fresh fame in January after a Chicago comedian shared a photo on the social platform X.

The attention, however, quickly grew old for neighbors who complained about visitors at all hours, sometimes leaving coins and other items scattered across the sidewalk. Plus, many in the neighborhood argue that the imprint was actually caused by a squirrel.

Erica Schroeder, a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said the square of sidewalk “containing the famous 'Chicago rat hole'” is now in temporary storage.

She said that where the slab of sidewalk, which has an impression resembling the outline of a rat — claws, tail and all — will eventually end up is expected to be a “collaborative decision between the city departments and the mayor’s office."

Schroeder said the rat hole section, as well as other portions of sidewalk along Roscoe Street, were removed by Department of Transportation crews Wednesday morning after the agency inspected them and determined they needed to be replaced because of damage.

Georgina Ulrich, a neighbor, shot video of crews using a concrete saw, a forklift and finally a truck to remove the slab and drive it away.

“All this for a rat imprint,” Ulrich said in one of the clips.

New concrete was poured later Wednesday, Schroeder said.

“The alderman’s office has definitely received complaints from neighbors about people gathering and people placing a bunch of different objects in the public way there," she told The Associated Press.

Alderman Scott Waguespack's office had been receiving complaints for several months, both about that portion of sidewalk being uneven and people congregating there to look at and photograph the rat hole, Paul Sajovec, Waguespack’s chief of staff, said Wednesday.

“It was just a combination of the fact that the sidewalk was uneven and also that people would show up at various times of the day and night and make a lot of noise and create other issues and problems," he said.

In January, someone filled in the rat hole with a material resembling white plaster, although the impression was quickly dug out by fans, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.

Chicago resident Winslow Dumaine told the newspaper that people living nearby said the imprint had been there for nearly two decades.