Great story, love the quotes.
From http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/10/nyregion/10fish.html, reprinted here in case it goes away.
New York in summer is smelly; that is not news. But the
smell at 70th Street and Third Avenue on the Upper East Side of
Manhattan yesterday was something different - office-bound residents
stumbled and picked up their pace, workers covered their noses, police
officers used masks. The smell was so bad you could practically see it.
After an investigation that lasted through the sweltering morning, one that involved two city agencies, the cause of the stench was scientifically determined. And while it was not what some people suspected, it was pretty disgusting just the same.
The horror began to unfold around 7 a.m. on Wednesday. A maintenance worker at Gracious Home, a furnishings and hardware store, noticed a big garbage bag placed next to the trash bin on the sidewalk. He thought it was just unusually pungent garbage.
But 24 hours later, when he returned, he realized he had been mistaken. Now the smell was unbearable.
"When I saw it yesterday it had a bad odor," said the worker, Marvin Hawden, 40.
"This morning it was stinking bad. I figured it was some body parts from a hospital waste."
People gathered in knots, covering their noses. Mr. Hawden called 911, and the word spread that medical waste had been found on a sidewalk in one of the city's luxurious neighborhoods.
By 7:50 a.m., a police car was on the scene. The officers, in masks, covered the suspicious bag with an orange plastic cover and sealed off part of the sidewalk.
officer, too, thought he detected the odor of decaying body parts.
"It smells like a crime scene," a mail carrier yelled as he rushed by.
At 10:15 a.m., two people from the medical examiner's office stepped out of a white van, put on white gloves and removed the plastic cover. Dozens of flies scattered. The police offered the men from the medical examiner's office masks, but they stoically declined.
One of them dipped his hand inside the bag and took out something the color of flesh. The crowd grew around the scene. "Stay away from the sidewalk," an officer ordered.
At 10:25 a.m., the men from the medical examiner gave their professional opinion: It was dead fish.
The sweltering heat and oppressive sun of the last few days had taken its toll. The wind carried the smell to Lexington Avenue and spread it around, along with the rumors of abandoned body parts.
In its 24 hours on the busy corner, the bag became notorious. Shoppers ran a gantlet to get into Gracious Home.
"I passed it a few times yesterday; it was terrible," said Ravit Doms, a 40-year-old mother of two who lives at 72nd Street and Third Avenue. "Everybody kind of came to take a look at it, but nobody dared to open the bag."
Some feared for the sensitivities of their more famous neighbors.
"I thought it was a terrible smell and I immediately thought of how Sean felt about it," said Mary Ann Crenshaw, an owner of a public relations company. She was referring to Sean Connery, the actor, who lives nearby. "I said, 'Oh, my God,' and I wondered if Sean Connery still likes to live in this neighborhood."
Gracious Home smelled like, well, dead fish. Workers said they were growing used to it, but to keep the disgusted customers from fleeing the shop, they burned scented candles. It would work for a while, until someone opened the door.
The misery finally ended at 11:30 a.m. when a sanitation truck took the bag away. The police said they did not know where the fish came from, but they suspected it might be restaurant waste.
With the fish gone, some witnesses opened up. "I knew this was not the smell of body parts," said Ian Jordan, 23, a deliveryman from Queens. He did not say how he was so certain.
By Abeer Allam on Friday, June 10, 2005
Source: New York Times
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