Captain’s Log: To what do we owe San Francisco’s centrality in Star Trek's vision of the universe? After all, the venerable sci-fi franchise has set several episodes, and even a whole movie (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) in the city by the bay. Is Google secretly the precursor to Starfleet? Or maybe it's just that San Francisco looks good on screen, especially as seen from Captain Kirk's downtown apartment (we hope that it's rent-controlled).
In honor of J. J. Abram’s Star Trek Into Darkness (in theaters today) here are some highlights from our city’s future timeline. (Thanks to Memory Alpha for the info.)
2024: Bad news, but maybe you saw this coming: Massive unemployment and homelessness will lead to the city’s ghettoization. Sanctuary Districts for the poor eventually erupt into civil violence known as the Bell Riots, forcing California Governor Robert Chen to order the SFPD and the National Guard to restore order forcibly. Widespread outrage over the crackdown leads the United States to develop significant anti-poverty programs (Deep Space 9).
2053: We play host to a diplomatic summit that ends World War III—but not before large swaths of the planet are rendered uninhabitable because of fallout from nuclear weapons. (The Original Series, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise).
2063: First Contact—we finally meet our Vulcan friends, an indication that we’ve achieved sufficient advancement as a civilization (contact with primitive civilizations being prohibited by the Prime Directive). We’ll benefit nicely from earth’s Vulcanization, gaining Starfleet Headquarters and Starfleet Academy— finally, something important in the Presidio! (The Motion Picture, The Voyage Home, First Contact).
2155: Diplomats from Earth, Vulcan, Tellar Andoria, Denobula, Rigel V, and Coridan meet in SF, not for a nerd convention, but to form an initial Coalition of Planets. Six years later, we’re the founding city of the United Federation of Planets. NYC is presumably underwater (Enterprise).
2258: This is where Into Darkness reportedly picks up. So no spoilers, you n00bs.
2368: Archaeologists dig up Data's preserved head in the Presidio—unless you alter history and go dig it up first. The incident is notably the subject of a Futurama spoof wherein Bender's head sits under Roswell for 1,000 years (The Next Generation).
2375: The Golden Gate Bridge, which has weathered the years admirably, is tragically destroyed along with much of the city in an attack by the Breen. Not to worry, everything is rebuilt a year later. (But the real question is: Will they have finished the new Bay Bridge by then?) (Deep Space 9, Voyager).
Live long and Prosper, San Francisco!