Springsteen wrote this about Asbury Park, New Jersey, a resort town near where he grew up. Springsteen went there a lot when he was young, and watched it deteriorate as he got older. It is now mostly neglected.
This took on new meaning after the September 11th terrorist attacks on the US. It became a message to New York City about rising from the ruins.
Springsteen first played this in December 2000, on his US tour with The E Street Band. He performed it only at a few shows in New Jersey.
This was the first song performed on the "Tribute To Heroes" telethon, held 10 days after the attack to benefit victims of the terrorism.
Springsteen played this at two benefit shows he held in New Jersey in October 2001.
The song had not yet been released when Springsteen performed it at the benefits.
A cover by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, which was recorded in December 2009 at the Kennedy Center Honors' tribute to Bruce Springsteen, entered the Hot 100 in February 2010. Proceeds of the song went to Artists for Peace and Justice Haiti Relief after the earthquake that devastated the country.