The 1964 murder of a Queens woman, Kitty Genovese, shocked New Yorkers because of newspaper accounts claiming that 38 witnesses watched the murder unfold over the course of 1/2 an hour and no one intervened or called the police. Perhaps my memory was constructed from hearing about it later, but I do have a vivid recollection of reading the headlines during my early childhood in NY as my mother spoke about how horrible it was that so many people watched without calling the police.
The Genovese story became iconic in social psychology, spawning an interesting line of research looking at factors that influence helping behavior. But recently, the authors of this article argued that the story of the 38 witnesses is not supported by the evidence.
H/T: and commentary at The Situationist