The Famous "Rat Hole" Sidewalk Imprint in Chicago Was Removed Because of Damage

(Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere / Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

,-Residents in the North Side neighborhood of Roscoe Village are saying goodbye to an era as municipal authorities remove a distinctive feature of a Chicago sidewalk, affectionately known by some as the "rat hole," owing to damage.

It has been an odd sight on the residential block for years, this mark that looks like an animal's silhouette. But in January, it became well-known after a picture posted by a comedian from Chicago went popular on social media.

The attraction soon wore off for the residents, though, who were weary of the steady stream of tourists who frequently left behind cash and other objects strewn on the sidewalk. Neighbor disagreement has also surfaced, with some speculating that a squirrel was the real culprit behind the imprint.

The Chicago Department of Transportation's Erica Schroeder, a representative, verified that the sidewalk portion housing the well-known "Chicago rat hole" has been temporarily removed and stored. Together with other city departments and the mayor's office, the fate of this slab with its characteristic rat-like characteristics will be decided.

Crews from the Department of Transportation removed the slab from the Roscoe Street sidewalk using a truck, forklift, and concrete saw. The decision was made after inspections showed damage that needed to be replaced.

Georgina Ulrich and other neighbors saw the evacuation and videotaped it. Though the event was impressive, others were surprised that such great care was taken for what was really a sidewalk footprint.

Residents had been complaining for months, Schroeder said, about the uneven walkway and the disturbances brought on by people congregating to watch and take pictures of the rat hole. City officials acted after complaints flooded Alderman Scott Waguespack's office.

The imprint's ongoing popularity was demonstrated in January when an attempt was made to cover in the rat hole with a material resembling white plaster, but aficionados quickly dug it out.

Although its precise beginnings are still unknown—some say it had been there for almost 20 years—the "rat hole"'s destruction signifies the end of an era for Chicagoans and closes the book on an oddball piece of sidewalk mythology.
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