Space Shuttle Enterprise arrives in New York City (+video)

Hundreds of spectators turned out to watch the Space Shuttle Enterprise arrive by barge at New York's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

By , Newsday

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    Riders onboard a New York Water Taxi get a close-up view of the space shuttle Enterprise as it is towed by barge up the Hudson River as it makes the final leg of its journey to its new Manhattan home on the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Wednesday.
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As hundreds of spectators clapped, whistled and cheered, the space shuttle Enterprise completed its final journey Wednesday afternoon.

A crane slowly lifted the Enterprise above the Hudson River, then gently lowered the spacecraft to the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum — its new Manhattan home — shortly after 4 p.m.

Joining the throngs of onlookers lining the West Side waterfront was Tom Jones, 63, a Vietnam veteran from Indiana. He said seeing the shuttle atop a former aircraft carrier was a moment he’d never forget.

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“There are not any words,” he said. “It made me feel pretty [expletive] proud.”

Daryl Gousby, 50, of North Carolina, a Brooklyn native, said he wanted to “take in this New York moment.”

“It’s a very historical and beautiful event,” said Franklin Alexander, 52, of Canarsie, Brooklyn, who began singing “Lift Jesus Higher” after the shuttle began to rise from its transport barge, its nose pointed toward the skyline.

Jason Garfield, 22, of Merrick, a graduate accounting student at Yeshiva University, watched from a park just south of the Intrepid.

“Is this the coolest thing?” he said, as the crane prepared to hoist the prototype shuttle.

Garfield said he decided to watch the event after catching the prelude: the Enterprise’s arrival, piggybacked on a NASA jet, at Kennedy Airport in April.

“I figure, if I’m in New York, why not come witness history?” he said.

Earlier Wednesday, a flotilla of vessels accompanied the Enterprise as it sailed past the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center site en route to the Intrepid.

On Sunday, the shuttle was transported by barge from Kennedy Airport to Jersey City, N.J., where preparations were made for the trip’s final leg.

The shuttle’s wingtip suffered light cosmetic damage during the Sunday trip when a wind gust caused it to graze a wood piling, museum officials said.

The Enterprise never went into space, but in 1977, it served as the prototype for the country’s celebrated space shuttle program. Since the early 1990s, it had been on display at the National Air and Space Museum annex near Washington.

As the Intrepid prepares permanent exhibit space for the spacecraft, it will open for public display July 19 inside a temporary, climate-controlled pavilion.

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(With Joseph Mallia. Distributed by McClatchy/Tribune)

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