What’s That Horrible Smell on H Street?

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

“Dear PoPville,

On my bike ride into work today, I smelled one of the most foul odors ever. It covered blocks and blocks (all near the new Apollo construction site). Just curious if anyone else has contacted you about it. It smelled like super concentrated sewage.”

46 Comment

  • justinbc

    The ghost of trees past.

  • Wow, I smelled something similar around Mass Ave between Schneiders Liquor all the way up toward Mass & 5th NW.

  • Woah – I smelled what I thought was fertilizer at 12th and U this morning – the smell was super strong, and covered a 2 block radius…with no fertilizer dump truck in sight. Could this same smell have traveled all the way up to U?

  • Smelled it walking to the Stadium/Armory Metro this AM around 7:45am too. Super nasty!

  • Hasn’t this happened before? I seem to remember reading about a massive smell throughout DC in summer’s past.

    • I don’t know about summers, but in winter the city sprays beet juice in lieu of grit and it stinks to high heaven!

  • I smelled it this morning on U street NW, near 18th street. smelled like a mix of concentrated fertilizer and sewage.

  • It really stunk like fertilizer at 6th and Florida. I think the summer humidity just boils the city into super stank mode.

  • EW I smelled it too while biking down I street, it’s a smell I couldn’t place but it was wretched. It stretched from about 10th street to 5th street and even lingered a little beyond.

  • Smelled it near Mt. Vernon Square as well, was awful.

    • It’s smelled around there like manure for days. I thought it was the port o johns at the construction site on 11&M but maybe it’s been something else.

  • I can confirm it was pretty nasty around the Apollo construction site this morning, on I street for a stretch of several blocks. Smelled like manure. Just awful.

    • YES. i walked by there this morning (I & 7th) and that is exactly where it smelled the worst. like sewage.

  • Smelled this too near home at 9th and U and work on the hill…pretty sure it’s just a mix of the heat and the garbage. naaaaaaaasty though.

  • So basically all of DC smells like sh!t…

  • It’s not just H St NE, or U Street, or anywhere specific…. it’s EVERYWHERE, it’s called DC in the summer 🙁 The people stink, the trash stinks, everything stinks. Sometimes I wish I could carry a Costco sized container of fabreez and fabreez the hell out of the city, or at least fabreez in front of me as I walk 🙂

    Good luck out there. Don’t hold your breath too long

    • I agree. Everything rots and cooks and stagnates. This humidity!

      • No way this was that. I have spent many summers in DC and this was definitely the distinct smell of dog or human shit. Not garbage, not fertilizer, excrement. I even checked my bike tires and my shoes.

  • Were the winds coming from the direction of Ben’s Chili Bowl?

  • Anonomnom

    I am just shocked at the number of people who poured onto here saying how bad everywhere smells! It must be all the rain of the summer, things are just starting to rot and mold. I know my front lawn area smelled of almost mildew until the last sun-streak we had.

  • These comments are hilarious.

  • Walking through Hill East/H St over the weekend, every time I crossed an intersection, it smelled like this.

  • Was on the X2 bus this a.m. when a group of people got on around 8th St. NE. The smell was so abrupt and foul that I swore someone had stepped in dog doo prior to getting on the bus. Other must have smelled it as well because everyone around me starting checking under their shoes! Glad to know it’s the city that stinks and not someone on the X2 for once! I hope they get that cleared up prior to my commute home!

  • Probably to do with the heavy rain from the last two days, no? The sewers fill up with rainwater and overflow, and some areas are more prone to it than others.

    • Well, one could blame it on the rain. I’d blame it on a sewage system that doesn’t work when it rains, and pours raw sewage into the river. It’s a stupid system to have.

  • Ugh, I got a huge whiff of this riding up 4th Street, NE from F Street to Stanton Park. Got stuck at the light for a full light cycle at 4th & Mass, NE and nearly suffocated. It was absolutely pungent! Smell didn’t subside until I crossed Constitution Avenue.

  • smelled this on 5th and k too the whole walk to the chinatown metro.

  • I think it may be gentrification your smelling, but its been down that way for some time now

  • I smelled this too, starting in Stanton Park and all the way down Massachusetts to Union Station. It was the worst. For those of you saying that this smells like what DC usually smells like in summertime, YOU DID NOT SMELL THE SMELL.

    • you are 100% correct. i have lived in DC for many summers, and yesterday’s…aroma…was not normal.

  • I ride my bike to work and notice that the liquid that leaks from garbage trucks smells TERRIBLE. If you look closely, you can see lines of it down the center of streets, fresh or dried up. So nasty. Since we’re noticing this bad smell throughout the city, my guess is that it’s garbage day in these neighborhoods.

  • We love a good smell as much as anyone, but we’re pretty sure this isn’t ours. Crew responded to 17th and Benning Road NE this morning, and didn’t find, or smell anything out of the ordinary emanating from the catch basins or sewers in the area. They did note, as others have observed, that there was something spilled from a trash truck in the roadway, which could potentially be the source of the stench.

    Or, we could pick on everyone’s favorite villain, ginkgo trees. In that case, let me find you the number for DDOT.

  • Could the smell have been drifting up from Blue Plains? Just a thought… I’ve definitely been catching whiffs of sewage all over the city the last couple weeks – but at the level that is standard for this time of year…


  • Brooklyn Brawler

    The comments are hilarious. When I saw the topic I had to click. I too experienced this foul smell walking by Hechinger mall. It smelled like EVERYTHING everyone listed here. :vomits a little:

  • It stings the nostrils…

  • There used to be a phenomenon that would happen if we had long stretches in the summer without rain: the storm drains would not get a “washout” and would emit a foul stench, but we’ve had a bunch of rain this summer.

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