Alas there seems to be no ferry service to anywhere from this pier, though a block away is the ferry to one of San Francisco's most famously dubious tourist attractions, Alcatraz. (Possibly relevant note: The gap in my posting here was due to a stubborn head cold, not incarceration.)
Nor is there any profound justification for posting this image, beyond the general Rule of Cool. But it provides a handy segue to an ongoing topic of this blog, the somewhat uneasy boundary line between Realism [TM] and Romance.
Such border disputes are by no means confined to outer space, but space is a particularly productive environment for them, because the whole idea of going into space for any reason is essentially and profoundly Romantic. Yes, comsats, weathersats, and various other things we have sent into space have their practical uses, but it seems awfully unlikely that strictly practical people would ever have come up with them, given how absurdly difficult and costly space travel is.
Yes, before space travel there was military rocketry. But - setting aside the question of in what sense our blowing each other up qualifies as practical - the established or foreseeable roles of military rocketry in the early 20th century did not point toward space boosters. Practical military rockets like the Katyusha were essentially self propelled shells, more expensive and less accurate than standard shells, but able to be fired from cheap, lightweight launchers instead of heavy, expensive artillery rifles.
The V-2 was, in the pre-atomic age, a supremely impractical weapon: an expensive and inaccurate way to lob a shell not all that much farther than the longest-ranged guns of the time could achieve. No one would have come up with such an idea on purely military grounds. I'll guess that Versailles restrictions played a role in making the German army interested in alternatives to conventional artillery, but it was the first generation of space geeks, not military specialists, that put long-range rocketry into play.
Yes, nuclear warheads made ICBMs all too practical, but it is no accident that the first generation of ICBMs, both US and Soviet, turned out to be much more suitable as space boosters than as weapons.
Space travel is, like the image above, ultimately all about the Rule of Cool, AKA Romance. This has significant implications. As strong as are the practical reasons for not spending zillions on it, these reasons have not, so far, succeeded in making the whole silly thing go away. Unless post industrial civilization removes itself from the social selection options, it will probably not go away in the midfuture, either.
A comparison can be made here to other Zeerust-era future techs, such as the SST. Supersonic aircraft are also inherently cool, but not that cool. So, not only do SSTs fail to offer enough merely practical benefits to pay for their development cost, they also fail to offer enough coolness to overcome that limitation.
I suspect that people will walk on Mars before airline passengers (again) travel at supersonic speeds.
It may be somewhere between paradoxical and hypocritical for me to turn around and argue this point, considering how much time I spend here beating up on popular space tropes. But I beat up on the PSTs so you won't have to. Romance, in and of itself, need not apologize to realism for anything, but the minor sub-branch of Romance that decks itself out as hard SF has a certain obligation to fake it convincingly, including space futures that sustain at least the illusion that they were invented in this century.
The image was snagged from Google Maps. And here is a genuine example of mysterious British transportation signage. Can anyone here elucidate the meaning?