As I’m sure many would agree, Redding’s Downtown Mall hosted two of the greatest arcades the city has ever known. The mighty Earth Station I was totally weird and cool; they certainly earned points for originality in regard to the interior of the place. it was all tricked out with funky mirrors, black lights, and odd space-oriented stuff all over the place. I remember they had this big ‘window’ type thing that was rigged to act much in the same way as two mirrors reflecting each other would. The inside of it had these weird circles arranged in a grid, and when you peered into it, it seemed to go on forever. I never figured out how that worked, but it was very TRON.
They also had big wall murals made from blown up Apollo moon shots, which added to the (surprisingly effective) space motif. The fact that you had to climb a long flight of stairs to get up to the place made it kind of cool, as well. It was perched at the top of the mall, right near that Hof Brau place and those funky multi-leveled wooden platforms you could go up onto.

Interestingly enough, the owner was a former elementary school teacher (Mr. Woodruff) who had taught at my school. I think he may have also opened an Earth Station II, over on Hartnell or something – but if it did indeed exist, it was probably as short-lived as the first one.
The Earth Station left our planet after only three or four years. I remember how forlorn the staircase looked after it was gone, with the lights turned off and the rope across the botton to deter people from walking up. Eventually, it was replaced by some real estate agency or something, and by then the magic of the Earth Station was but a distant memory.
Aside from being such a cool place, it was the first place I ever saw and played Galaga — so it’s got a special place in my heart.


Also worth mentioning was the Time Zone, located in the bowels of the mall, down below Leatherby’s where the ferns are (where supposedly some guy got killed). That place was great, and had many games that nobody had ever seen or heard of. It was always dark and kind of creepy down there, and the warm glow of the games provided an interesting, contrasting comfort.
This was back in the days when the mall actually had functioning businesses in it, and my mom would occasionally allow me to spend an hour or so there while she ran errands.
This place had so many games that it was hard to keep track of which ones they had at any given time. While the Gold Mine often carried the latest greatest ATARI games, the Time Zone seemd to specialize in the really weird ones (ATARI and otherwise), both new and old, that had never been seen before in our area. It was there that my eyes first saw the creepy Red Baron, TRON, the groundbreaking Baby Pac Man, and Tempest (which became quite common soon thereafter). TRON in particular was the perfect game for the Time Zone, as it was right in line with the “creepy & sinister, yet fun” vibe that place had.
Unfortunately, the Time Zone unexpectedly closed up shop after a few short years, bringing to an end the era of arcade fun in downtown Redding.
There was also a Time Zone in Old Sacramento (which I think later became Aladdin’s Castle before its demise), which was very similar to the one in Redding. However, the Redding one was cooler.

So, let’s show some respect… Pour a little of your 40 on the curb for the Earth Station and the Time Zone.