Why Star Trek Made San Francisco the Center of Its Universe

San Francisco

In the Star Trek canon, the United Federation of Planets was formed in San Francisco, California. Starfleet maintains its headquarters there. Starfleet Academy lies within sight of the bay. Much of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home takes place in that city. More than any other city, San Francisco is the center of the Star Trek universe.

Why San Francisco as opposed to, say, Lubbock? Or Dallas, Brownsville, San Antonio, Longview or other excellent options? Ted Trautman of Wired examined why that city was important to Gene Roddenberry and a symbol of Star Trek. San Francisco was a Navy town, a site of technological innovation and a diverse, international city. Trautman writes:

Plenty of science fiction is city-specific: it’s impossible to imagine RoboCop anywhere but Detroit, or Blade Runner outside of Los Angeles. What sets Star Trek apart is the attention it pays to one little city, barely seven miles across, when the other points on its journey are not cities or countries, but planets and star systems. Many of Star Trek’s struggles take place not long ago in a galaxy far, far away, but in a city we have already built, just a couple centuries down the road. And it’s a city whose culture of curiosity, craftsmanship and tolerance have left an indelible mark on one of the world’s most successful sci-fi franchises.

What other cities on Earth do you think would represent Star Trek well?


(Image: CBS)

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I think you're right on canon locations. In expanded universe things, they sometimes include Alpha Centauri as a found member of the federation (Even saying that Cochrane was from Alpha Centauri, not Earth.) I've been immersed in Star Trek Online as of late and they put part of Alpha Centauri in the beta quadrant. Not the whole thing, just part.
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True, San Francisco is not the capital of the UFP. But the treaty establishing the UFP was signed there.

I'm fairly sure that under canon, the entire UFP fits into a small portion of the alpha quadrant.

You need never, ever apologize for either geekiness or nerdiness at Neatorama.
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Yet again, I feel the need to apologize for my nerdiness, despite the fact that this is one of the few places that could appreciate it.

It's true that San Francisco is important to Starfleet, but it is not the capital of the UFP. That's located in Paris. When the Federation was founded, it was a federation of planets in the Alpha & Beta Quadrants. Earth just happens to be the closest affiliated planet to the Alpha/Beta border and thus in the center.
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