Chicago rat hole now being analyzed in religious studies course

@neomudang/TikTok @rubencordobajr/TikTok

‘Hallowed ground’: The Chicago rat hole leaves quite the impression on TikTok

Local residents are not happy.

 

Audra Schroeder

IRL

Posted on Jan 25, 2024

Over the course of January, a rat-shaped hole in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood became a tourist attraction and TikTok phenomenon.

It’s known affectionately as the Chicago rat hole, and people have filmed themselves making pilgrimages to the slab of concrete. The Chicago rat hole tag has more than 26 million views on TikTok, and because of this devotion, it’s taken on a religious aura.

@rubencordobajr blessing the grave of a god fearing Ratholic #chicagorathole #chicago #rat #rathole #ratpope #hole #fyp ♬ som original – Joao Victor

Creator @neomudang recently posted about asking students in her religious studies course to analyze whether the Chicago rat hole “fit our definition of religion.” She remarked on how “engaged” they were.

Others became Ratholics. The Church of Ratology, which grew out of a 2023 Chicago-based variety show, also aligned itself with the hole.

What is the Chicago rat hole?

A Jan. 6 tweet from comedian Winslow Dumaine appears to be the inciting incident. “Had to make a pilgrimage to the Chicago Rat Hole,” it reads.

But the origin of the hole is less clear. The Wikipedia page for the CRH has a section titled “Debate over origin of hole,” where it’s posited that the shape, which has been there for at least a decade, is actually from a squirrel. Some residents of the neighborhood claim a squirrel possibly fell from a tree onto wet concrete, leaving the imprint.

An 11-year-old Reddit post shows an earlier incarnation of the hole, including more defined footprints where it looks like the creature walked away. Even then, commenters debated whether it was rat or squirrel.

Nevertheless, many followed Dumaine’s lead and made pilgrimages, quickly turning the hole into a shrine where offerings were left. A wedding was officiated there, proposals took place, and songs were written about it.

Was the Chicago rat hole filled in?

It was filled in last week, though it’s not clear who’s responsible. Locals quickly excavated, but there was discussion from city officials about taking the slab and moving it to a bar or other location. The pilgrimages have caused congestion in the neighborhood, and residents aren’t happy with the noise, vandalism, and “loss of privacy.”

@blockclubchi

THE RAT HOLE LIVES ON! 🐀 🕳️ Someone tried to fill in Chicago’s rat hole — but neighbors brought it back to life. Neighbors and fans rushed to save the city’s newest attraction after someone tried to cover it up Friday. The rat-shaped sidewalk hole near near 1918 W. Roscoe St. was filled in with a “concrete-like material.” It’s not clear who has a problem with the rat hole and doesn’t want us to have nice things, but Lakeview neighbor Johnathan Howell grabbed his license plate and went to work digging out the hole, NBC Sports’ Alex Shapiro reported. Other neighbors joined in, using other small tools to help. By early afternoon, the hole looked mostly back to normal, though remnants remained of the filling, melted snow and slush. 🎥 @rubencordobajr @nbcchicago ✍️Full story in our link in bio or visit blockclubchicago.org

♬ Slipping Through My Fingers – From 'Mamma Mia!' Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Meryl Streep & Amanda Seyfried

In the wake of the hole’s virality, other cities and locales have started showing off their own: There’s the Miami Beach lizard hole; the Merced, California frog hole; and the D.C. shoe hole(s).

For those outside of Chicago, a DIY, 3D-printed rat hole is possible for personal use.

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*First Published: Jan 25, 2024, 12:33 pm CST