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Tour the Shore! Bruce Springsteen’s New Jersey Roots

NYC History NYC Story

I was. . . Born in the USA! I was. . . Born in the USA! But not just any part of the United States of America. Bruce Frederick Springsteen, American icon, Rock n Roll hero, serenader of the Blue Collar Worker, local Kid Who Made Good, was born in the swamps of Central New Jersey. And with Bruce currently playing a sold-out run on Broadway, it’s a good a time as any to take a Bruce Springsteen Pilgrimage down the Jersey Shore to see all the bits and pieces of the small-town America that forged this most epic of American songsmiths, a man responsible for narrating the American dream.

Take note of the position Bruce is standing in!

After a hotel pickup and swing past a few Greenwich Village locations where Bruce played in the 70s (like the historic Bottom Line Rock Club,) it’s an hour-plus drive to Freehold NJ and the parking lot where Bruce Springsteen was born & spent his first few years. Of course, I pull out my Bruce auto-bio and read about his childhood and formative years with his beloved but smothering grandparents.

Ken Belling, from Chicago IL, probably takes the cake for Biggest Bruce Fan Ever. 

Then we swing by two more houses where Bruce grew up, all within a few blocks of one another in bucolic Freehold. For my Aussie and/or Canadian Bruce fans, the ability to adventure through small-town America is almost as much of a thrill as walking in Bruce’s footsteps through his childhood and young adult years. Almost! 

Jason Stone & family, assuming the Bruce position at 49 1/2 Institute Street.

After Bruce’s childhood home tours (exteriors only, as these houses are privately owned) we grab a classic Jersey bar pie – super-duper thin crust pizza that is – at Federici’s in downtown Freehold. Then its off again to Belmar NJ and the corner of E street and 10th Ave for a Bruce photo op with the town’s beloved signpost.

Ken at the corner of E Street & 10th Ave. . . in Belmar.

Bob Hodgkins with an oversize postcard at the Stone Pony.

After Belmar, we drive past the Upstage Club, the Student Prince and finally we get to the Mecca of Bruce’s Boardwalk years – the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Walk through the Stone Pony, stroll along the Boardwalk for some photo ops in front of Madam Marie’s and the Casino, as well as a quick visit to the Asbury Park Convention Hall.

Ken and Maureen at the Stone Pony.

Jason & Kate & their delightful (and whipsmart) daughters at the Asbury Park Boardwalk.

Following Asbury Park and the Boardwalk, there’s one more surprise visit – the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University where the marvelous Eileen Chapman allows us to get a hands-on experience with a fraction of their 30,000+ collection of Springsteen arcana, souvenirs, fan-mades, and memorabilia. It’s a pretty intense chock-fulla-Bruce-Experience. I’ve seen grown men reduced to tears here. After Monmouth its a lovely drive up the Turnpike back to the big city. Rocking out to Bruce all the way.

Top to Bottom: Vintage Scrapbooks assembled by Bruce’s Mother at the Springsteen Archives;
Ken in Scrapbook Heaven.
Bob & Eduarda Hodgkins with Eileen Chapman of the Archives.

So what are you waiting for?!? Bring the family and let’s all go down the Jersey Shore to celebrate the life of BRRUUUUUUUCCCCCCCEEEEEEE!!!!!

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