updated 1/8/2007 2:59:29 PM ET 2007-01-08T19:59:29

New Yorkers began the work week with an olfactory mystery that left much of Manhattan and parts of New Jersey smelling like natural gas. But it reminded some locals of an earlier incident with the more pleasing scent of pancakes and maple syrup.

“It smelled to me like gas,” said Denisia Greenaway, describing Monday’s pervasive smell as she stood in the Greenwich Village.

“There was another time last year when all across the city they were smelling pancakes,” she added. “They could not work out what it was.”

That mystery, in October 2005, also sent an unidentified scent through Manhattan and New Jersey. “It smelled like brunch,” The Daily News wrote at the time. “Most thought it smelled like maple syrup.”

The New York Times weighed in on that mystery—which prompted a multi-agency investigation which that fruitless—with a story headlined “Good Smell Perplexes New Yorkers.”

Harry Koutoukas, who has lived in Greenwich Village since 1957, said Monday’s smell reminded him of “old eggs.”

“When I first smelled it, I checked to see if it was my icebox,” he said.

And speaking of unsolved smelly mysteries, he added, “There’s been a weird smell coming from outside that bank on Bleecker Street for years that we keep reporting.”

New Yorkers are long used to strange, localized stinks. In August 2006, a bad smell was reported in the city’s Staten Island borough, thought to be a gas leak so strong it gave some people headaches. An investigation found nothing.

Last year in the borough of The Bronx, locals took to the streets to protest the stink from a city composting plant.

Then there is the smell of a citywide garbage strike or just the nasty waft on a hot, humid summer evening emanating from the city’s countless unswept alleyways.

There’s also the rank aroma of humanity packed like sardines on the subway during rush hour on a sweltering August night.

The Web site Gawker encourages readers to report smells in the city, both “horrific and sublime,” for inclusion in its “New York City Subway Smell Map” which tracks hot spots of everything from body odor to sewage.

And some have cashed in on the city’s stinks. Perfumers Bond No. 9 sells 18 varied New York neighborhood scents, including Eau de Central Park, Little Italy, Chinatown and Wall Wall Street, available at Saks Fifth Avenue and other posh stores.

While Monday’s mystery might never be solved, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s assessment of the situation may live on: “We are waiting for the gas to pass.”

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.


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