CHICAGO (AP) — You dirty rat!
In a city infamous for its gangster past, some culprit filled in a Northside Chicago neighborhood landmark affectionately called by residents the “rat hole.”
The indentation in the pavement on West Roscoe Street resembles the outline of a rat, claws tail and all. It was reported Friday on social media that the “rat hole” had been filled with a substance resembling white plaster.
Transportation and Streets and Sanitation officials told the Chicago Tribune that the city was not behind the fill-in — which one day may find itself part of Windy City tongue-in-cheek lore like Al Capone's vault and a coil of bronze faux feces on a fountain intended to remind people to pick up their dog poop.
Neighbors gathered Friday afternoon using a brush and water to scrub the shallow hole in the sidewalk clean, restoring it to its “ratfull” place among the city's iconic — if not strange — attractions.
Tributes, including plastic flowers, a prayer candle, small toys, a pack of cigarettes and coins adorn what may have been the final resting place of “Lil Stucky” or “Chimley,” names given by some in the neighborhood to the creature that once lay there spreadeagled.
“Overall, people just appreciate that our wonderful block is getting attention — even if it’s to look at a rat hole,” Jeff VanDam told the Chicago Sun-Times for a story Friday. “It’s a small, quirky feature of a neighborhood where we get used to it, we care about it, and we want to protect it."
Chicago resident Winslow Dumaine learned about the “rat hole” from a friend and posted a photo earlier this month of it on X, formerly known as Twitter. The photo drew more than 5 million views, he said.
People living nearby said the imprint had been there for nearly two decades and was made by a squirrel, according to Dumaine.
“I think at the end of the day, the rat hole is a silly thing, but the thing that made it so viral was the fact that thousands and thousands of people were in on a big, sweet, heartfelt joke,” Dumaine told the Tribune.
“Chicago prides itself on all of the things that make Chicago difficult, and no matter how much Chicago hates rats, they love rats,” he added. “It’s a part of our culture.”