Land of Springsteen

The reason for going to Asbury Park was of course my genuine love for the music of Bruce Springsteen. I remember very clear the first time I listened to him...


I was in my sister’s apartment in Gothenburg, this was in the very beginning of the 80’s and they were on a party, so I had the apartment for myself and I went through her record collection.


I found a record of Gary U.S. Bonds that I really liked (“Dedication” from 1981). One of the songs I really liked and I saw it was written by a guy named Bruce Springsteen. Hmm, I knew I seen a record of him somewhere. That’s the first time I consciously listened to Springsteen and I started out chronologically with his records cause my sister had them all.


Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973 January)

The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973 September)

Born to Run (1975)

Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

The River (1980)


A few years later I was in a record shop and saw a record with Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes (“Trash It Up” published 1983). I loved the record from the first moment, bought it on the spot. After listening to it and checking producers and additional musicians I realised that Asbury Park was not a park but the place to be and that both Bruce and Southside Johnny was from that area.


A couple years later came Born in the USA and I was absolutely not alone listening to Bruce anymore :-)


Now back to Asbury Park – To understand what I did and wanted to see you must know a little about the place, so here comes a short geography and history lesson....


Asbury Park is located next to the ocean, about on hour drive south of New York in the state of New Jersey (The Garden State”).


This aerial photo of Asbury Park is from around year 1900 and taken flying over the ocean looking west.

In the picture to the left, you see the boardwalk along the ocean, the orchestra pavilion, the pier at the south end of the boardwalk and the first auditorium by the beach to the right in the picture. (The auditorium was replaced by the first Casino 1903 and the current Casino 1930.)

Next two photos are both taken standing on the boardwalk where the fishing pier starts in the centre of the picture above and looking:

1. West (same direction as this picture is taken)

2. North (right)

Asbury Park 1904, looking west on Asbury Avenue.

Asbury Park boardwalk 1919, looking north, with the ocean to your right.

The city was then very young, founded only 30 years earlier. Between 1870 and 1880, new railroads were built in the area, which made it possible to easy reach Asbury Park’s two kilometre long beautiful beach, booth from New York and Philadelphia.


James A. Bradley founded the city 1871, installed a boardwalk, an orchestra pavilion, public changing rooms and a pier at the south end of the boardwalk and in 1888 Ernest Schnitzler built the Palace Merry-Go-Round and the Ferris wheel that you can see to the left in the picture. More than 600,000 people a year vacationed in Asbury during the summer and many hotels were built and modern retail shopping was offered downtown.


Asbury Park quickly became the major destination of the Jersey shore!

Asbury Park boardwalk looking north, with the ocean to your right.

The year is in between 1942 and 1963 (The Albion Hotel was built 1942 and The New Monterey Hotel was demolished 1963)

Asbury Park boardwalk looking south 1930, with the south ending and the building named The Casino.

The Casino with the round Carousel house overlooking Wesley Lake that is the south border of Asbury Park. The other side of the lake are Ocean Grove. The beautiful building with the chimney was a heating plant. Both buildings were built in 1930.

This picture was taken on Easter Sunday 1954. The boardwalk from the Casino (just south of the photo) looking north all the way up to the Convention Hall.

What I like to show with all this old pictures is the time when Asbury Park was the major destination of the Jersey shore- It was regarded as the "Queen of the Jersey Shore", or the "City by the Sea" during its heyday in the early half of the 20th century.

This great photo’s was taken in Asbury Park’s last heydays 1980.

Photo is most probably from the mid 70's.

Besides the top beach (that’s still there) there was a lot of attractions. One was the Monte Carlo Pool. The world’s largest salt water pool 75x55 metres.


The pool was separated from the beach by Ocean Avenue, but a small tunnel ran under the street so you could get to the sand and sea.


The Monte Carol was built in the early 40’s. 1974 a twenty-six-story senior citizen high-rise apartment building, was built at the former site of the pool.

Photo taken 1980 from the Empress Hotel. (That was also the hotel I stayed at my first visit to Asbury Park). The view is the hotel swimming pool, but most important, the major attraction of Asbury Park - Palace Amusements.


Palace Amusements was a historical indoor amusement park in Asbury Park. It was as I mentioned before founded 1888, Ernest S. Schnitzler.


It was famous for having one of America's greatest hand-carved carousels. The three-row machine held 70 hand carved animals. The Ferris wheel carried passengers for more years than any other in history.


This park was known for inspiring a generation of artists, photographers and songwriters (including Bruce Springsteen). Thanks to its iconic wall murals, including a grinning fun face knowing as Tillie.

How great is this photo?

(Also from the early 80's)

The Palace operated for 100 years (from 1888 to 1988) and was sadly demolished in 2004.

Besides from the amusements at the Palace amusements, The Casino and the Carousel house, there was amusements by the boardwalk.


But already in the mid 60’s the travel market changed, fewer vacationers took trains to the seashore. The Monmouth Mall opened 10 minutes north downtown previous so attractive shops became less of an attraction to shoppers. The opening of Six Flags Great Adventure, became a tough competitor to the city’s amusements.


The city's changing fortunes, bad political management, 1970 racial riots all resulted in a negative spiral for the city. This started for real in the mid 70’s and become a reality in the mid 80’s.

The final rescue was the growing gay community. Most of the wealthy white people had moved out, the black middle class had moved their kids out of the school system that more or less had collapsed.


In came the gay community who didn’t have need of good schools and could buy low price properties. Gays from New York purchased and restored Victorian homes, this leading to a rebirth of parts of the city.


Bruce Springsteen’s song “The Rising” is a song about Asbury Park in this new century!

Picture is showing the new and restored boardwalk summer 2009. The vacationers are slowly coming back to the city!

Convention Hall Beach Bar and the beach summer 2009.

Beach summer 2010. This photo is taken in the other direction, from Convention Hall and you see The Casino in the other end of the boardwalk.

I'm the King of the art of how to Making a short story long.... Back to the Springsteen Odysee'...

A photo taken from the balcony of my room at the Empress Hotel - Looking South

Morning view from the same angle as yesterday (looking south).


You can here see The Casino and the first beach pavilion, (but I’ll get back to that on later pictures.)

A photo taken from the balcony of my room at the Empress Hotel - Looking North.

Ocean Avenue is one of the streets once included in

"The Circut", where the young guys drove round and round, trying to pick the pretty Jersey girls :-)

Morning view from the same angle as yesterday (looking north). Enjoying a great cup of complementary morning coffee and a Danish at the balcony overlooking the Ocean -

A morning hard to beat!

First night at the Empress Hotel night club named Tabu Lounge. There Drag show and a free drink(!) was included in the room - Coming from Småland, you don't wanna miss that :-)

Breakfast at Franks's Deli & Restaurant (1406 Main Street). According to Asbury fans on internet Frank’s is an institution – and it was a real genuine diner with only locals – and me…

After second breakfast a tour round Springsteens Asbury Park landmarks!

An old picture of the Sunshine In/The Hullabaloo Club. This was one of the first clubs Springsteen played at. It was demolished 1982, but located just next block from my hotel, so I started out my odyssey there :-)

Standing on the very same spot, just turning a little to the right is the back of the Stone Pony. To the left in white stripes is another historic Springsteen building....

Now we’ve moved out on the street and you’ll see the white/grey striped building still to your right. On next picture we’ll move on to the next crossing (where you’ll see the car in the centre of the picture).

Behind the red car is the Empress Hotel, where I stayed. To the right you see green cupper roof of the old Casino and carousel building and to the left the green fence of the Stone Pony outdoor stage.

The lot behind my car is where the Sunshine In/The Hullabaloo Club was located. I tried my best to get the same angle of this picture as the old one.

Now we moved one crossing north. We're looking south, down Kingsley street, this building is historic ground for us Springsteen fans. Note the street sign – we’re in the corner of Second Avenue/Kingsley Street.



“Well I’m riding down Kingsley, figuring I’ll get a drink I turn the radio way up loud, so I don’t have to think”

from “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (1978).

Behind the door in the corner of the building, was Club Xanadu, where Springsteen on May 26, 1984 made the first live performance of “Dancing in the dark”. BUT - the most historic place is found behind the door under the orange sign.


You can see a fraction of the orange sign in the top of the picture…I just couldn’t resist getting my photo taken in this legendary doorway.


Not only what was inside the door is a legend, the Student Prince club where Bruce Springsteen was playing frequently in the early 70’s, but the door itself is part of a (true?) Springsteen legend;


In September 1971, Springsteen’s band was playing at the club and Clarence Clemons played at the Wonder Bar a few blocks away. Clemons aka “Big Man” had heard about the talented guitarist and wanted to check him out, so he walked through a stormy night down to the Student Prince.


When Clemons opened the door it flew of it’s hinges and down the street with the storm. "I want to play with your band" said Clemons. "Sure, you do anything you want." A shocked Springsteen answered the giant, standing in the now doorless doorway :-)

The building has not always been painted in white/grey stripes. When this handsome young guy was playing here it was a brick building.

Now back to the the corner of Second Ave/Kingsley street to look around to check out the neighbourhood – all historic landmarks on this Springsteen odyssey :-)


Standing in the same crossing as before, turning 180˚, looking north, the other direction of Kingsley Street, you’ll find Asbury Lanes and the The Fastlane (the light blue building to the right).


The week before I visited they had demolished the famous movie theatre The Baronet, (previously located to the right of light blue club The Fastlane.)

Asbury Park is going through a major redevelopment and almost all of the Springsteen historic buildings might be bound for destruction :-(


Back to the Fastlane - This club is the second most known club in Asbury Park (after Stone Pony). Well known names played here are The Ramones, Sinead O’Connor, Patti Smith, Average White Band, Ronny Spector etc.

The club's heyday was in the late 70’s/early 80’s and Springsteen was then a frequent guest and have many times joined in for an improvised jam session!


One of the then rising star bands that played with him, was the Atlantic City Expressway, fronted by Jersey born singer and guitar player Jon Bongiovi (or as we now know him now - Jon Bon Jovi).

Turning 45˚, looking north-east, with the ocean to you’re right, you’ll see two beach pavilions down on Ocean Avenue.


Next we’re off to the Stone Pony and then we’ll continue down Ocean Avenue to see the white pavilion to the left (in the centre of the picture), where you’d once find Sandy’s Arcade


Behind the steel and concrete structure (a non-finalised condo project), you’ll find the Wonder Bar and the Convention Hall.

Now turn another 45˚, looking east, is the ocean (but you don’t see it in this picture). But what you DO see is the legendary club of all clubs, THE STONE PONY.


Now, let’s walk down to Ocean Avenue and the entrance the Pony that lies in the next street corner that you see in the centre of this picture...

Walking down to Ocean Avenue you’ll get a closer look of Jimi’s, the blue building to the right of the grey Stone Pony. Jimi is another club from the 70’s named and I’ll come back to Jimi on a picture later.

Down by Ocean Avenue at the entrance of the STONE PONY, looking south and you'll see the Casino and the Empress hotel again.

The legendary Stone Pony nightclub opened in 1974 and is without doubt one of the most known rock 'n' roll clubs in the world.


Most people refer to the Stone Pony as the club where Bruce Springsteen got his start, but when the club opened in 1974, he had already released two records. (The club where Springsteen really started out would be The Upstairs, but I will come back to that later....)

The reason for the Stone Pony’s fame are that many of the world's most popular artists have played on it’s stage during the years. In the beginning of the 70’s it was “like Asbury’s answer to Cheers” for Jersey shore musicians, such as Johnny Lyon (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes), Steve Van Zandt (Little Steven), Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, Jon Bon Jovi, Clarence Clemons, Soozie Tyrell, Nils Lofgren among others. (“Everybody there knew your name”.)


It wasn’t untill 1977 more national known artist and stars on the way up, entered the stage. Stars such as John Eddie, Bobby Bandiera, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Elvis Costello, Gary U.S. Bonds, The Ramones, Skid Row, Blondie, The Stray Cats, Meatloaf, Todd Rundgren, Joan Jett, Blue Oyster Cult, Gregg Allman, Ace Frehley of Kiss, Levon Helm, Johnny Winter, David Johansen (Buster Poindexter), Mink DeVille, Dion, Ronnie Spector.


During the 70’s, 80’s until early 90’s, the club attracted fans from around the world hoping to catch a glimpse of local hero Springsteen, who performed regularly onstage with friends or with the E Street Band before going on tour. But also since the re-opening 2000 Springsteen have made numerous jam sessions at the club, most often when any of his old Jersey shore friends have been booked at the club.

Turning right 45˚, looking west and back from where we came from.

Turning right another 45˚, looking north Ocean Avenue you’ll barely see the green facade of the Wonder Bar.


That’s where Clarence Clemons played and walked from to the Student Prince the stormy day of 1971 to meet Bruce Springsteen for the very first time.


On the right you’ll see two of the beach pavilions. We will stop by the second one (the one now painted in white).

Getting closer to the second pavilion you might now see the Wonder Bar with the smiling Tillie face on the green facade to the right in the picture.


Behind the second pavilion, in between the third yellow pavilion, is Madam Marie's.

Walking down to the other side of the pavilion, turn around, now looking south. This was the building where Bruce visited "Sandy's arcade".



“I just got tired of hangin' in them dusty arcades, bangin' them pleasure machines. Chasin' the factory girls underneath the boardwalk, where they all promised to unsnap their jeans.”

from the album “The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle” 1973.

Sandy's arcade. Mentioned and maybe gave the name to the song “Fourth Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”.


The song has been described as "the perfect musical study of the Jersey Shore boardwalk culture”.


A former co-worker at Sandy’s wrote that he hated the song because his boss made him wipe the dust of all machines twice a day after the song was published :-)

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras elit arcu, pharetra eu turpis vel, volutpat consectetur libero. Cras vitae orci tincidunt, facilisis ligula ut, laoreet nisi. Vivamus in velit eleifend, lacinia arcu euismod, tempus nisi. Morbi erat tortor, rutrum eget erat at, congue dignissim lorem. Nam rutrum sed nulla at commodo. Cras tincidunt rutrum sapien eu tempor. Phasellus ut tristique tellus, at finibus elit. Nam eu egestas dui. Vestibulum suscipit mauris a purus elementum cursus. Sed auctor sagittis tincidunt. Nunc a justo non ipsum lobortis laoreet sed eu massa. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Donec sit amet lacus tincidunt, viverra neque in, vestibulum purus. Nam et mauris congue, semper magna non, sagittis risus. Suspendisse potenti. Mauris mattis felis eget faucibus sodales.


Cras tristique augue id nisi pretium, vitae laoreet nibh feugiat. Pellentesque varius augue ut ipsum faucibus, ac consectetur lectus dapibus. Quisque vitae arcu posuere, venenatis turpis malesuada, pulvinar velit. Etiam aliquam nibh et sollicitudin placerat. Proin bibendum erat mi, non bibendum augue lacinia id. Donec nec lorem accumsan, finibus velit eu, luctus eros. Sed malesuada, libero vitae molestie eleifend, mi est condimentum eros, et ultrices tortor libero efficitur quam. Donec ac felis diam. Morbi dignissim ligula quis leo ultrices, sed rhoncus magna lacinia. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Nam posuere ligula at nibh maximus fringilla. Duis sed diam tortor.


Suspendisse venenatis feugiat eros vitae porttitor. Etiam sed blandit lectus. Nunc eu rhoncus diam. Aliquam sed rhoncus lacus. Nulla ac tempor justo. Curabitur eget velit elementum, faucibus turpis nec, scelerisque tellus. Sed ante lorem, suscipit ut rhoncus eget, mollis in neque. Ut et aliquam massa. Mauris malesuada, lacus at auctor interdum, eros enim interdum mauris, scelerisque rutrum ante ligula non dolor. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nulla condimentum massa id lorem iaculis cursus. In at mauris enim. Sed a enim velit. In nisl lorem, aliquam in erat sed, bibendum dictum lectus. Nunc dictum ipsum ac placerat tempor. Donec at feugiat purus.


Donec venenatis eros eget sem sollicitudin vehicula. Sed fermentum augue in nibh tempor, a sodales dui eleifend. Integer ut sapien purus. Aenean vitae augue sit amet orci posuere tincidunt. Sed cursus at neque et facilisis. Pellentesque at vestibulum elit, eget maximus orci. Nulla sed purus eget nunc pretium dignissim rutrum ac enim. Quisque non nulla non nisi venenatis malesuada. Vivamus egestas dui sit amet tempor pellentesque. Donec vitae blandit nisi, id pharetra neque. Sed dapibus sem in varius tincidunt. Aenean in gravida ex. Nullam et efficitur purus, non iaculis enim. Nulla iaculis, diam non porttitor viverra, ligula urna bibendum dolor, accumsan elementum enim libero non libero. Nullam blandit mi quis elit suscipit, vitae blandit ante lacinia. Quisque eu consectetur dolor, eu imperdiet nibh.


Praesent eget ipsum eu dolor efficitur cursus in nec justo. Vestibulum sed euismod magna. Etiam posuere convallis efficitur. Aliquam pretium auctor justo vitae congue. Donec eu rhoncus turpis. Sed eleifend non velit ac fringilla. Quisque et dui ut felis aliquam tempus. Mauris efficitur lectus eu porta placerat. Nam mattis fermentum consequat. Aliquam et magna convallis, pharetra enim semper, eleifend tellus. Donec euismod odio a bibendum maximus. Nullam feugiat iaculis quam eget rutrum. Sed commodo sit amet risus sit amet vestibulum. Morbi laoreet condimentum vehicula. Aliquam a sapien magna.