Since it was catapulted to global fame by a viral post last week, the Chicago Rat Hole has become a site of quasi-religious worship and, in recent days, vandalism.
The hole is the imprint of a small mammal left in wet concrete poured around 20 years ago. Some local residents speculate that it may have been left by a squirrel rather than a rat, but the exact animal is unknown.
A post to Twitter / X by artist Winslow Dumaine describing a "pilgrimage" to the rat hole went viral earlier this month, leading to increased attention on TikTok and other platforms.
Local news outlets covered the shrine that developed around the hole, as people gave it offerings such as coins, food and a wide variety of mementos. These devotees included the famous poster formerly known as JUNIPER, who posted about placing estrogen pills in the rat hole as an offering.
However, on Friday, fans of the hole awoke to find it had been filled in with some kind of substance, purportedly concrete or white plaster. Working together, they excavated the rat hole and returned it to its former glory.
Since then, worship of the hole has only accelerated. A wedding was conducted at the site and posted to TikTok on Sunday. A "Church of Ratology" has also declared itself the guardian of the hole, promising to conduct a "Rat Mass" around the site.
What the future will hold for the rat hole and its legions of followers remains to be seen, but already it seems the rat has left an indelible imprint not only on the cold concrete of Chicago's streets but in the warm hearts of its residents too.