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We know that in 1984, the Muppets took Manhattan.

In 1989, Jason Voorhees took Manhattan as well.

Later, DeGrassi took Manhattan, the Weeping Angels took Manhattan, and countless others have taken Manhattan.

Who was the first, in movies, TV, pop culture, or otherwise to "take Manhattan"? And where did this weird turn of phrase come from? One never hears of people "taking" the Bronx, or London, or what have you.

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2 Answers 2

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We can't close as a duplicate across sites, so this from user bib on English Language & Usage

The phrase take Manhattan appears to reference the song Manhattan by Rogers & Hart, first heard in the Garrick Gaieties from 1925.

The line in the original is We'll have Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island too ... [lorenzhart.org]

Later renditions changed that line (among others) to I'll take Manhattan, ... [spiritofsinatra.com]

It also has overtones of the military meaning of take

Capture or gain possession of by force or military means:

twenty of their ships were sunk or taken

the French took Ghent [Oxford Dictionaries Online]

The phrase, I'll take Manhattan ... has become a meme, giving rise to a number of other works, as discussed by the original poster.

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  • I swapped this to community wiki, as it's not my answer.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 17, 2022 at 9:23
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Some examples of titles with taking cities:

I'll Take Manhattan is a 1987 American television miniseries, adapted from Judith Krantz's 1986 bonkbuster novel of the same name. Screened by CBS, it tells the story of the wealthy Amberville family, who run their own publishing company in New York. After Zachary Amberville, the patriarch of the family, dies, the company is taken over by his unscrupulous brother Cutter. Zachary's children, especially his energetic and intelligent daughter Maxi, begin a battle to regain control of their father's company.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ll_Take_Manhattan_(miniseries)

We'll Take Manhattan was a 1967 tv movie and pilot film where a lawyer is involved with a 140 year old Indian seeking to reclaim Manhattan.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451972/

Miss Grant Takes Richmond is a 1949 comedy film starring Lucille Ball and William Holden, directed by Lloyd Bacon and released by Columbia Pictures. It was released under the title Innocence is Bliss in the UK.1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Grant_Takes_Richmond

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