SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — It is one of the icons of America, the backdrop to a thousand stories — the place where Tony Soprano”s nightmares unfolded, where Nucky Thompson built his “Boardwalk Empire,” where Snooki and The Situation brought reality TV to the ocean’s edge and where Springsteen conjured a world of love and loss and cars and carnival lights and a girl named, incongruously, Sandy.
But after the storm of the same name passed through last week, the seaside towns of the Jersey Shore, a place that popular culture has picked to exude Americanness, have been upended, and some of the boardwalks have been pushed into the sea.
And those who live there, those who spent their childhood weekends there and those who experience its stories from afar are asking different versions of the same question: What happens now?
“This is just a heartbreaking experience seeing all these places we love that are just decimated,” said Jen Miller, a blogger about the Jersey Shore who lives in the Philadelphia area. “It’s just what you do every summer: You go ‘down the shore.’