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When the Enterprise exhibit opens at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, "Star Trek" fans will be among the first people in line to see the historic space shuttle. Trekkies – fans of the television series and movies – share a special bond with the prototype for NASA’s first reusable manned spacecraft. The Enterprise got its name thanks, in part, to their efforts.
The first space shuttle was originally supposed to be called the Constitution. But in 1976, President Gerald Ford received tens of thousands of letters from "Star Trek" fans. The science fiction buffs saw the shuttle as the realization of their dream world. They wanted it renamed Enterprise.
“Suddenly, the stuff we were seeing on television, every week, every night on "Star Trek," was becoming a reality,” Frank Gruber said. His home in suburban Lincoln Park, New Jersey, is a shrine to "Star Trek." Models of the starship Enterprise and other fictional spacecraft from the TV shows and movies hang from the ceiling. The walls are covered with photos of Gruber posing with "Star Trek" cast members.
The streets of lower Manhattan are traveled by hundreds of thousands of people each day. Beneath the sidewalks they walk on, a treasure trove of buried historic artifacts waits to be discovered.
As construction crews tear into the streets on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan, Alyssa Loorya is often by their side. The urban archaeologist with Chrysalis Archaeology is looking for items that were once considered garbage. The city often has to hire archaeologists to work alongside construction crews when they open the streets in lower Manhattan. The National Historic Preservation Act requires cities and states to conduct an archaeological survey at a work site when there is a strong possibility of finding historical artifacts.
“We’re actually finding things anywhere in a range between 3 and 11 feet below surface,” Loorya said while at a construction site on Fulton Street, one of the oldest streets in New York. “We tend to see pockets and areas that are completely undisturbed, little segments of the 19th, 18th century that have remained intact.”
“One of the main reasons that we are out here is to replace the existing, century-old water main that was located here,” said Tom Foley, deputy commissioner with New York City’s Department of Design and Construction. His agency is constantly ripping up streets and sidewalks in order to replace aging pipes and power lines.
“When you peel away the asphalt and the concrete we’re left with...a significant amount of infrastructure,” said Foley. “Some of the existing water mains are 125 years old.”