Is the ‘rat hole’ phenomenon in Chicago causing problems for residents?

A woman cleans the iconic Chicago Rat Hole of a plaster type substance in the 1900 block of West Roscoe Street in the Roscoe Village neighborhood, Friday, Jan. 19, 2024 in Chicago.
A woman cleans the iconic Chicago Rat Hole of a plaster type substance in the 1900 block of West Roscoe Street in the Roscoe Village neighborhood, Friday, Jan. 19, 2024 in Chicago. | Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere /Chicago Sun-Times via Associated Press

When my sister called me Sunday afternoon and told me her family went to go see a famous rat hole 10 minutes away from her apartment in Chicago, I thought she was joking.

However, a quick TikTok search following that phone call sent me down a rabbit hole that proved my sister isn’t the only person interested in the phenomenon and its popularity is starting to cause problems.

Believe it or not, a rat-shaped hole in a sidewalk has prompted thousands of people to make the pilgrimage to a seemingly ordinary neighborhood street in Chicago.

“I love quirky Chicago things,” Chicago resident Johnathan Howell told The Washington Post. “It’s one of those Chicago gems that you want to keep around.”

People are reportedly visiting the site in Roscoe Village to drop coins, leave gifts and pay their respects to the rat that once lived there.

One couple even tied the knot at the viral landmark.

One problem with the fun landmark is residents are now reportedly pleading with the public to no longer congregate around the area.

The Chicago ‘rat hole’ is making residents call the cops

“I told someone it felt like I was living on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, because people were out there drinking, yelling, playing music and taking pictures of drugs on the ground next to the rat hole for clout,” an unidentified woman who lives near the rat hole said, according to NBC News.

“I know they’re having fun, and I don’t want to be anyone’s party pooper, but also, get off my stoop,” she said. “This is my house. I’m just trying to have a quiet weekend at home, and this is a residential area.”

Artist Winslow Dumaine wrote in a post on X that the phenomenon has been blocking traffic for residents and pleaded for visitors to pay their respects to the rat in a respectful way.

The Washington Post reported that while not every visitor comes and “wreaks havoc,” some have brought alcohol, left trash lying around and made a lot of noise.

“I don’t want to ruin the fun, but if you’re going to visit the Rat Hole, please be respectful of the neighborhood. It’s right by an apartment building and I’m getting noise and obstruction complaints,” Dumaine wrote in a post on X.

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How did the Chicago ‘rat hole’ go viral?

As the story reportedly goes, a local artist and comedian in the area spotted the imprint of a rat on a sidewalk in Roscoe Village and posted a picture with the caption, “Had to make a pilgrimage to the Chicago Rat Hole.”

The post went viral and even had some commentators respond, calling it “more iconic than the Bean.”

Despite the spot’s newfound popularity, CBS News reported that the attraction is not new, as “many neighbors quoted in published reports say it has been there for several years.”