Space shuttle Endeavour within sight of Exposition Park
Endeavour is within sight of Exposition Park as it continues to inch its way along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard toward its new home at the California Science Center.
By 10:45 a.m., the shuttle had passed Vermont Avenue and had come to a stop near Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Thousands of people -- some hawking T-shirts and hot dogs -- poured onto the boulevard. Some chanted: "Science Center or bust!" "Let's go, let's go!" and "So close, so close!" Many snapped photos with their cameras and cellphones.
"I couldn't be happier with the result," said Jeffrey Rudolph, president of the California Science Center, as he walked in front of the massive orbiter.Given the size of the crowds that had come out to see the shuttle the last two days, Rudolph said, the total had to be in the "seven figures."
The 85-ton shuttle was delayed several times along the last leg of its two-day, 12-mile journey as it weaved its way around a number of obstacles, sometimes its wings coming within inches of trees and utility poles.
By 8:30 a.m., Endeavour had meandered its way out of another tree-lined neighborhood and then had to navigate between a Ralph's grocery store and a C & C Caribbean Market at Western Avenue.
A row of people, who started to shed their sweaters, stood on top of a fence at Red Carpet Car Wash to see over the hoards of people between them and the shuttle.
After a 4 a.m. commute from Santa Clarita, Donna Rosen, 61, saw the shuttle in the dark and got to walk alongside it for a few hours.
Seeing the orbiter was impressive, but also personal for Rosen. In the early '80s, when she worked in the governor's office in Texas, Rosen got to meet shuttle astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen.
"I didn't know it was on my bucket list, but it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen," Rosen said of the experience of seeing the shuttle.
Aliesha Nickerson, who lives in the neighborhood, drove down to a gas station on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Denker Avenue at 7 a.m. to grab a prime viewing spot. Still in her pajamas, she stood next to a gray minivan while her 10-year-old daughter, 8-year-old son -- both in their pajamas -- and her boyfriend, Tyree, sat on top of the vehicle.
A crowd spilled into the gas station's parking lot while awaiting Endeavour, which was a few blocks west.
Nickerson said she appreciated the effort to slow down in order to save as many pine trees along the boulevard as possible.
The effort "is great because they planted them for Martin Luther King. That's very thoughtful," she said.
--Andrew Khouri and Marisa Gerber
Photo: Endeavour along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Credit: Andrew Khouri