After a journey that was delayed more than 15 hours, the space shuttle Endeavour reached its new permanent home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park Sunday to the cheers of thousands.
The shuttle's final mission — a 12-mile tedious crawl down city streets from Los Angeles International Airport to the science center — was dubbed "The Big Endeavour" and easily lived up to its nickname during a journey that began early Friday morning and ended at around 1 p.m. Sunday.
- RELATED: A full rundown and photo gallery of the shuttle's entire journey blogged live from the field.
Endeavour's last miles were a nip and tuck affair, as trimmers tried to snip the bare minimum of branches from trees planted in the late 1980s to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the boulevard named in his honor.
At points, the shuttle on its transporters was moving diagonally, backing up, and then nosing past trees. In some narrow passages, the trees came within inches of the shuttle's wing tips.
Some time was also lost Saturday while crews worked on and reconfigured the
four self-propelled rigs the shuttle is riding on to squeeze along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which is narrower than previous roads on the shuttle's journey.
"Its journey is slow and steady but it is momentous," Los Angles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told a crowd of thousands assembled at a Baldwin Hills mall on Saturday.
When the shuttle finally arrived at the science center Sunday, Villaraigosa declared Endeavour's final mission "accomplished."
"Wow, what a journey," the mayor told the crowd. "This was not just a once in a lifetime event, but a once event."
California Science Center President Jeff Rudolph also spoke at the finish line and thanked the people of Los Angles and Inglewood for their support.
"I may be kicked for it, but it was the mother of all parades," Rudolph said, drawing applause from the crowd.
Throughout the shuttle's route, officials estimated a collective crowd of more than 1 million turned out to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event and witness a piece of history roll by. The experience was a far cry from the restrictions officials originally said would keep crowds far away from the shuttle.
In the end, families could gather kids and grandparents together within feet of the shuttle to take pictures that could well be seen by generations to come.
LAPD reported that no arrests were made during the entire trip and crowds were well behaved.
"This is the best, most enthusiastic crowd we have ever worked with," said Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, citing his 35 years of experience with crowds in Los Angeles.
With up-close and personal access at multiple points along the shuttle's route, it was a unique spectacle and emotional moment for many.
"I am about to tear up," said Inglewood resident Marilyn Williams as she told friends on Saturday morning about her fascination with the space program.
"Father God, I didn't get to go to space, but you brought the space to me today," she said, standing on Crenshaw Drive.
The move is expected to cost about $10 million, and a fundraising campaign has begun to build a permanent hangar for the 122-foot-long orbiter.
The shuttle will soon be on public display in a temporary building at the California Science Center starting on Oct. 30. It will be free to view the shuttle but advance reservation times are recommended due to the expected large turnout.
City News Service and Adam Swart also contributed to this report.