(covers information from several alternate timelines)
|San Francisco skyline at night (2150s)|
|Transamerica Pyramid and other San Francisco buildings (2259, alternate reality)|
|Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco (2270s)|
"It doesn't look all that different."
The site of many momentous historical events, including the signing of the Charter of the United Federation of Planets in 2161, San Francisco was one of the most important cities in the Federation, home to the Federation Council, Starfleet Headquarters, and Starfleet Academy. It was also renowned as a center of culture, with numerous significant landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, the Embarcadero, and Alcatraz.
Founded as a Spanish colony in the 18th century, San Francisco was soon claimed by the United States of America. It first gained prominence in 1849 after gold was discovered in California. Thousands of American fortune seekers, known as the 49ers, flocked to the city.
By 1893, San Francisco had gained a growing and diverse population, including professional gamblers like Frederick La Rouque and Joe Falling Hawk, as well as aspiring writers such as Jack London. In August of that year, the city was visited by Samuel Clemens and Guinan, a disguised El-Aurian.
At the same time, an outbreak of cholera killed many residents, which was used as cover by a pair of Devidians time traveling from 2368 to harvest Human neural energy. The Devidians were stopped by a party from the USS Enterprise-D who had followed them through their temporal vortex. In the aftermath, Lieutenant Commander Data's severed head and several other artifacts would lay undiscovered under the Presidio for almost five centuries. (TNG: "Time's Arrow", "Time's Arrow, Part II")
In an alternate timeline created by Vosk's faction of the Temporal Cold War, Nazi Germany successfully invaded the East Coast of North America during World War II, while San Francisco remained under allied control. When a shuttlepod from Enterprise NX-01, which had also been moved back in time, attempted to approach the city in 1944, they were attacked by a squadron of P-51 Mustangs. (ENT: "Storm Front")
In 1986, a captured Klingon Bird-of-Prey commanded by Admiral James T. Kirk landed in Golden Gate Park after using the slingshot effect to travel back from 2286. They successfully retrieved two humpback whales from the Cetacean Institute in the nearby city of Sausalito, and returned to the future. Kirk and his compatriots remarked that the culture of the time was "primitive", "paranoid", and "medieval", and that it was a "miracle" Humans survived into the 21st century. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
The city's social ills worsened by the early 2020s, when massive unemployment and homelessness had led the government to create walled Sanctuary Districts. Originally promoted as temporary shelters for the economically disadvantaged, the Sanctuaries became dumping grounds for undesirable segments of the population. They became overcrowded, destitute, and all but lawless.
On September 1, 2024, San Francisco's Sanctuary District A saw what would later be called the Bell Riots, a hostage crisis that ended with government troops storming the Sanctuary and killing hundreds within. Sanctuary resident Gabriel Bell would sacrifice himself to save the hostages' lives, which coupled with the shocking violence would turn public opinion against the Sanctuary system. Shortly after, the Sanctuary Districts were torn down and the United States began making genuine progress in addressing its social problems. (DS9: "Past Tense, Part I", "Past Tense, Part II")
San Francisco prospered after First Contact with the Vulcans in 2063 and the subsequent founding of United Earth. The nascent Starfleet was headquartered in the city, and the skyline was altered by a host of new buildings. The San Francisco Fleet Yards were built, and the Vulcan Compound was established nearby in Sausalito. (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Home"; Star Trek Beyond)
In early 2155, delegates from Earth, Vulcan, Tellar, Andoria, Denobula, Rigel V, and Coridanite met in San Francisco to discuss the formation of a Coalition of Planets. During the conference, the terrorist group Terra Prime seized the verteron array on Mars and targeted Starfleet Command, which would also have wiped out half of San Francisco. After they were stopped by the Enterprise crew, the conference proceeded successfully. (ENT: "Demons", "Terra Prime")
Six years later in 2161, the Charter of the United Federation of Planets was signed in San Francisco by Human, Vulcan, Andorian, and Tellarite representatives. The event was witnessed by an earlier version of Archer from 2152, who was brought there by temporal agent Daniels in an effort to gain his cooperation. (ENT: "Zero Hour", "These Are the Voyages...")
In 2286, a Klingon delegation visited San Francisco to demand the extradition of Kirk for his actions regarding Commander Kruge's attempt to capture the Genesis Project. Shortly after, Earth was threatened by a mysterious probe attempting to contact humpback whales, which by that time had become extinct. Kirk and his crew, after traveling back to 1986 to retrieve a pair of whales, crashed their captured Klingon Bird-of-Prey in San Francisco Bay. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
The next year, Starfleet Headquarters was attacked by Khan Noonien Singh, who escaped to Qo'noS before he could be apprehended. He later made a second attempt to destroy the Headquarters by crashing the critically damaged USS Vengeance into it. The descending Vengeance grazed Alcatraz and demolished a number of buildings in San Francisco before coming to a stop. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
In 2368, evidence of an alien incursion to San Francisco in the late 19th century were uncovered beneath the Presidio, prompting an investigation by the Enterprise-D that led them to Devidia II. (TNG: "Time's Arrow")
In 2371, Commander Benjamin Sisko, Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax, and Doctor Julian Bashir were inadvertently transported to 2024 San Francisco by a temporal anomaly, whereupon they would play a crucial role in the Bell Riots. (DS9: "Past Tense, Part I", "Past Tense, Part II")
In 2375, San Francisco was attacked by the Breen, resulting in massive casualties and heavy damage to the city, including the renowned Golden Gate Bridge. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil") Most of the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge, was fully rebuilt and restored less than a year later. (VOY: "Pathfinder")
In an alternate timeline, USS Voyager triumphantly flew over San Francisco to fireworks after returning to Earth in 2394. The ship eventually landed in the Presidio and was turned into a museum. (VOY: "Endgame")
In an alternate timeline where the Federation was replaced by the Confederation of Earth, San Francisco served as the seat of the office of the President. It was also where the public executions for Eradication Day were held. (PIC: "Penance")
When the USS Discovery traveled to the year 3189, they were granted by United Earth Defense Force officer Captain Ndoye to visit Earth. Ensign Sylvia Tilly, along with Lieutenants R.A. Bryce, Keyla Detmer, Nilsson, Joann Owosekun and Gen Rhys visited the former Starfleet Academy grounds. (DIS: "People of Earth")
San Francisco was located at the northernmost point of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges connected the city to the northern and eastern regions of the bay, respectively. A lake was located in its southwestern corner. The city was the center of the San Francisco Metropolitan Area, which included a number of other cities such as Alameda, Oakland, and Sausalito. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; ENT: "Zero Hour", "These Are the Voyages..."; Star Trek Into Darkness)
- Main article: San Francisco locations
In the early 2150s, Doctor Phlox liked to frequent the restaurant Madame Chang's, which was located in San Francisco. In 2154, Phlox was assaulted near the restaurant and captured by three Rigelians, who were working for the Klingon Empire. (ENT: "Affliction")
In an alternate reality of 2372 visited by Harry Kim, parts of San Francisco were pedestrianized and served by public transports. In this reality, Kim lived in an apartment near a coffee shop called Cosimo's. Since the establishment's owner, Cosimo, was actually an alien whose time-streams Kim's shuttle intersected, it is unknown if the restaurant actually existed in the prime reality. (VOY: "Non Sequitur")
San Francisco was home to a number of major Federation and Starfleet facilities:
- Starfleet Academy
- Starfleet Medical Academy
- Starfleet Headquarters
- Starfleet Medical
- Communications Research Center
- Federation Council
Both Starfleet Headquarters and Starfleet Academy were located in an area of San Francisco known as the Presidio. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; TNG: "Conspiracy", "The First Duty"; VOY: "Non Sequitur")
From the 21st century onward, San Francisco was served by the Trans Francisco and Bay Area Rapid Transit mass transportation systems. Other means of transportation available in the city included hovercars, cable cars, air trams, and shuttlecraft. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; DS9: "Past Tense, Part I"; VOY: "Non Sequitur"; Star Trek Into Darkness; DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2"; PIC: "Remembrance", "Maps and Legends")
In the mid-20th century, San Francisco was the setting for novels featuring the adventures of the iconic private detective Dixon Hill. The novels featured San Francisco residents such as John Rawley, and the newspaper San Francisco Herald. (TNG: "The Big Goodbye") The city also served as the backdrop for many movies, including the comedic classic The Man From San Francisco. (ENT: "Cogenitor";)
- Star Trek films:
Gene Roddenberry previously worked on a show entitled Have Gun Will Travel, in which the protagonist lived in San Francisco.  He conceived of San Francisco's importance to the Star Trek franchise in "The God Thing", as that ultimately-rejected script placed Starfleet Headquarters in the city. (Inside Trek: My Secret Life with Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry, p. 69) Roddenberry went on to establish the city's importance with the production and novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the first feature-length film, choosing San Francisco primarily because of its role in the creation of the United Nations. However, he also considered the city an appropriate showcase for the secular Humanism that underlined much of his own philosophy (though controversies have arisen about the role of Alan Dean Foster in the changes to the Star Trek lexicon the film introduced). (citation needed • edit)
More shots of San Francisco were planned to appear in The Motion Picture than were ultimately completed for the film. A storyboard from the movie, depicting one of these unused shots, shows a walkway with a building on one side and a row of trees on the other, backgrounded by a skyline featuring multiple high-rises. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8, p. 25)
The scale model of the San Francisco skyline was originally created by Industrial Light & Magic for the movies featuring the TOS cast; it has been reused as stock footage and in modified form ever since. Paramount Pictures also commissioned several matte paintings of San Francisco, which have been used to establish location. (citation needed • edit)
Interior scenes set in San Francisco were typically shot at a Paramount Studios sound stage. The conference room at Starfleet Headquarters in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was actually a room in the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. 
Outdoor scenes featuring the Presidio were filmed at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant and Gardens in Van Nuys, supplemented by a matte painting. 19th century San Francisco was actually a redress of the "Western" Universal Studios backlot set. Different sections of the same back lot were used for some of the street scenes in the 24th century as well. (citation needed • edit)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the only Star Trek movie or television production filmed substantially in San Francisco itself. When Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett relayed to Nicholas Meyer the story of that film prior to its making, Meyer's first reaction was to ask if San Francisco had to be the movie's main 20th century setting, he having already made a film in which time-travelers end up in that city. Meyer wondered aloud about whether the former Enterprise crew couldn't go somewhere else "for a change," suggesting Paris as an alternative city. Nimoy and Bennett promptly replied that the San Francisco setting had to be used. "Ostensibly this had something to do with the fact of Starfleet Headquarters being based there," recalled Meyer, "but may more likely have been related to the fact that filming in San Francisco would be cheaper than attempting it in Paris." (The View from the Bridge)
Upon visualizing 1940s' San Francisco for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Zero Hour", Eden FX took considerable care to depict the city correctly. Robert Bonchune later recalled, "That little sequence, in going back to the producers [for approval], took a lot of finessing and tweaking for it to look right, and [for] San Francisco to look right." (Star Trek Magazine issue 118, p. 31)
For the film Star Trek, three or four different versions of 23rd-century San Francisco were developed in concept CGI illustrations. Stated Roger Guyett, "There would be no reason there still couldn't be current buildings around." (Star Trek - The Art of the Film, p. 51) Director J.J. Abrams intended to introduce the city with a static camera. "I wanted to do an establishing shot that was part of a scene," Abrams pointed out. "So you see... 'Look, there's future San Francisco.'" (audio commentary, xxx) The production shot aerial plates and scenic reference in the city, which Industrial Light & Magic significantly modified, adding towering buildings supposedly constructed to replace those lost in a mid-21st century cataclysm. As well as adding such futuristic and monothlithic structures, some fairly common reference sites were also used, such as the Transamerica Pyramid and the Golden Gate Bridge. The reuse of these locations helped maintain continuity with earlier Star Trek films. Views of the city predominantly consisted of three-dimensional structures layered through levels of haze, creating parallax effects. Footage set in the grounds of Starfleet Academy required the filmmakers to digitally expand the city from another angle. Associate Visual Effects Supervisor Eddie Pasquarello explained, "Some of our aerial shots of San Francisco began with a real plate; but by the time we were done, it was pretty much all 3D digimatte." (Cinefex, No. 118, pp. 60 & 64)
Various filming locations were used for the depictions of San Francisco in Star Trek Into Darkness. Industrial Light & Magic Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett recollected, "We used parts of the CAA building in Los Angeles as San Francisco. We modified them a lot, but the style of architecture allowed us to establish a lot of in-camera shots. This time we filmed Starfleet exteriors at the Getty Center in the Santa Monica Mountains, and we used Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove as subsections of Starfleet." The filmmakers decided that, in San Francisco, buildings newer than the Golden Gate Bridge dwarfed the Transamerica Pyramid. After Roger Guyett shot visual effects plates and aerial reference footage in downtown San Francisco, Tiburon and Los Angeles, ILM developed environment extensions. "We started with the very tall and elongated city buildings that were featured briefly in the previous movie," explained ILM Art Director Yanick Dusseault. "In this movie, we were moving between buildings in 80 or 90 shots, so we had to get more intimate with the design. We spent a lot of time coming up with designs that fit Star Trek and the current city. San Francisco is the perfect location for capturing the Star Trek feel – it's very bright and airy, and fit the optimistic aesthetic." The ILM environments team created a model of futuristic San Francisco featuring sixty high-resolution buildings and then dressed in tiers of lower-resolution architecture. The high-resolution constructs could be exchanged and rotated to produce new configurations. (Cinefex, No. 134, pp. 72 & 74)
According to the Star Trek: Star Charts (p. 32), San Francisco was the capital of the North American continent.