Legendary ‘Rat Hole’ Sidewalk Landmark Removed in Chicago’s Roscoe Village


In a quiet corner of Chicago’s North Side, where Roscoe Village’s eclectic charm converges with the unassuming pride of its residents, the pedestrian way beneath your feet secretly harbored a slice of urban mythology – an imprint in the sidewalk fondly dubbed the “rat hole”. However, on a recent Wednesday, following an assessment by city officials that deemed the distinctive section damaged and hence requiring replacement, the beloved landmark was whisked away.

The peculiar impression has long been an offbeat feature of a residential stretch in Roscoe Village, subtly contributing to its character. Its claim to fame was rejuvenated in January when a local comedian offered the world a fleeting glimpse into this distinct microcosm, posting a photo of the “rat hole” on social platform X. The buzz, initially thrilling, metastasized into an annoyance for dwellers pestered by inquisitive crowds hovering at inappropriate hours and disrespectfully littering the once-pristine sidewalk with scattered coins and other items. To add to the intrigue, some residents claim the notorious imprint was not the work of a rat but rather a squirrel.

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Erica Schroeder, a representative of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), confirmed that the slab of sidewalk bearing the renowned “rat hole” depiction now resides in a temporary storage hold, its fate yet to be determined. She further explained that its future would likely hinge on a collective decision between various city departments and the mayor’s office.

Schroeder elucidated how the CDOT crews, after carrying out a detailed investigation and discovering structural damage, artefully lifted the slab and nearby pavement sections from their decade-long rest on Roscoe Street. In the eyes of neighbor Georgina Ulrich, the show unfolded as an absurd movie scene, as city crews with concrete saws and forklifts joined a truck to spirit away the slab. “All this for a rat imprint,” Ulrich mused, capturing the spectacle on video.

Schroeder added that new concrete was poured later that day, warmly welcoming pedestrian traffic once again.

Both the Alderman’s office, led by Scott Waguespack, and Schroeder reported escalating grievances from residents about visitors gathering there, as well as people brazenly depositing an array of objects on the highly trafficked sidewalk. The Alderman’s office had been besieged by complaints regarding both the undulating sidewalk and the steady influx of ‘rat hole’ photography enthusiasts, according to Paul Sajovec, Waguespack’s chief of staff.

As a stark symbol of the escalation in attention, an unknown party filled in the rat hole with a whitish plaster-like material in January. This, however, did not deter its faithful admirers who promptly excavated the image, earning a mention in the Chicago Tribune.

Winslow Dumaine, a Chicago resident, offered the perspective from longtime locals who affirmed the imprint’s temporal footprint, asserting its existence for nearly two decades. As such, the legacy of the ‘rat hole’ – or perhaps squirrel imprint – will linger in the collective memory of Chicago’s Roscoe Village for years to come, a whispered tableau of urban folklore, absently etched in concrete.