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Politics, Etc. by John Nesler

Category: Personal

The Strange Afterlife of Eureka’s Bayshore Mall

Yesterday I posted an article that was written a decade ago about the Bayshore Mall, the mall in Eureka–where I lived for a brief time when I was a kid, and visited frequently as I was growing up. The article, “Death Stalks Bayshore Mall,” portrayed how what had once been the crossroads of Eureka’s social and commercial scene had become the most visible symptom of Eureka’s dying economy, and cast in a pretty harsh light the struggling people who were hit hardest.

I shared the blog post with some friends I’d known from Eureka. One who still lives there, Anna, decided to take her kids on a field trip to the mall and sent me some photos. What she found was, as you’ll see, a mall that isn’t ailing, so much as in hospice at this point. For those of us who once knew the mall intimately, but haven’t been back to Eureka in a while, the changes are… stark.

Below, I’ll share what she described as “Anna’s editorial you didn’t ask for,” as well as her photos. For perspective, the photos below were taken at around noon on Saturday, September 10th. (You can click on the photos to see them full size.)

Eureka is what you make of it, as is every city. I never thought I’d be raising my kids in Eureka, yet here I am. The mall isn’t really on our radar anymore, it’s not a place to hang out and just shop. In fact, there isn’t a place for that at all here. My kids’ childhood memories will be drastically different than mine. We have our group of friends and just rotate houses to hang at every weekend, instead of going to the mall.

We went to the Concord mall a few weeks ago and it was packed, and there were so many shops it was amazing for back to school clothes. It’s just a different lifestyle.

Bayshore Mall Map - September 2022

A map of the mall as it is as of September 2022. The food court, which serves as the main entrance of the mall, is located between Ulta and Boot Barn.

 

What was once the food court is now… a court. There are now only 4 dining options to choose from: unbranded Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and fruit options. For perspective, Burger King used to be at the far left. I can remember when this space seemed to be stuffed with  tables. But when there are only 4 places to buy food, I guess there’s not much eating to be done.

 

One of the 4 remaining food options. Sbarro used to be located here.

 

1080_20220910_113656

What you see when you walk from the food court into the center of the mall, where the two wings split off. It feels a bit like John Candy should be standing here, saying, “Sorry, folks, park’s closed. The moose out front should have told you.”

Below is the righthand side of the mall, now anchored by Walmart. One side of the wing has stores, but the other side is largely unoccupied.

Yes, there is now a DMV office in the mall. It’s generally not regarded as a good sign when a mall has a DMV office.

 

And, finally, the lefthand side of the mall, which houses a military recruitment office, a Planet Fitness, and… not much else. Anna mentioned that this part of the mall is dark, quiet, and echoey.

Looking at the photos, what comes to mind is Monty Python’s dead parrot sketch: “E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-MALL!!”

Death Stalks Bayshore Mall

For a couple of years after my parents’ divorce in 1990, I lived in Eureka, California, with my mom and sister. We subsequently went to live with my dad in 1993, but I visited Eureka many more times to see my mom, through about 2001. A lot of complicated stuff happened, and my mom ended up living back east, and for reasons I don’t care to get into, I haven’t talked to her in about 13 years.

But my memories of Eureka persist. One of the commercial centers of that then-logging town was the Bayshore Mall. Built in 1988, it was an outlier–the only mall in a hundred miles in any direction. It was a fresh, thriving, new place during the timespan that I lived there. I remember seeing a re-release of 101 Dalmations there, and watching Aladdin while an absolutely hellacious storm thundered down outside.

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