Many cities have acquired an icon in the modern sense: a signature image, usually a monumental structure, that instantly connotes it. The modern era prototype is surely the Eiffel Tower, famously visible from every apartment window in Paris.
San Francisco has two such icons, the Golden Gate Bridge and the cable cars, and it is a curiously interesting fact that both of them are transportation infrastructure. (Disclaimer: The bridge tower in the image is part of the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate, which is not conveniently juxtaposed with the cable lines.) I can't think of any other city that is so much symbolized by part of its public transit system. Perhaps the old classic London double decker buses come closest.
Bridges are iconic for many cities, well justified by the rule of cool, plus the symbolism. But not iconic for any great port city, that I can think of, is its actual reason for being, its waterfront. (Though I'd guess that the Ferry Building is iconic to locals).
Some celebrated facts about San Francisco, such as its hills and fog, are due to purely local circumstance. But most are rather characteristic of transport nexi. Far away from their own varied kitchens, people need to eat, so "half the town was restaurants, and all of them were good," an assertion still substantially true. People are far from their own beds, too, thus the other half of town.
Orbital stations are the well established transport nexi of space, going back to rocketpunk days. But science fiction has, on the whole, been slow to examine and exploit their potential. In written SF only Cherryh comes immediately to mind as treating space stations as much more than bus terminals.
(My reading is grossly fragmentary, and other examples are welcome, but I believe my overall point stands. Hollywood, on the other hand, discovered with if your 'ship' is a space station, it works like Dodge City. The action can arrive by
stagecoach spaceship, and you don't need to create a whole new planet every week.)
One reason for the neglect of stations may be that that a large, ramified space station would be the most urban of environments, and space SF has a deep rooted anti-urban tradition. The colonists were always escaping an overcrowded Earth of dystopian cities, heading out to terraformed or extrasolar worlds of, well, wide open spaces. It was mid 20th century suburbanization on a cosmic scale.
Of the two writers who did most to shape our conception of space travel, Heinlein was fixated on the political ideal of the Jeffersonian yoeman farmer, while Clark had a William Morris streak, and tended to portray his idealized futures as a sort of rustic English exurbia. (Yet in The City and the Stars, the stasis of civilization is broken by Alvin of Diaspar, not by anyone from stuffily superior, rustic Lys.)
Isaac Asimov was an unabashed urbanophile - the man who gave us Trantor, after all. But he was not much interested in the details of space travel, and wrote very little rocketpunk. The Spacers in his robot 'verse, in fact, can be read as a fairly withering commentary on the standard vision of space colonization.
In Realistic [TM] space futures, stations may be not only the center of the action, but in human terms nearly all of it. A research base on Mars might grow into a college town, but activities such as mining are be highly automated. Human presence will tend to grow up around the transport nexi, for the reason cities always have, because that is where people are coming and going.
Even in an operatic setting of shirtsleeves colony worlds, my money would be on stations as centers of the action, and a network of stations might be the most 'natural' form of interstellar polity. Star Wars, with its rather Asimovian setting, puts one famous scene on a planet surface instead of a station, but still captures the essential Romance of cities:
"You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy ... most of the best freighter pilots are to be found here."
The image is from a Ukrainian blog, mostly of automotive images.
As you may by now suspect, my absence from my computer last week was because we were visiting San Francisco. As soon as we can, um, put the financing together, we will be moving there to become true stationers.