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There are a number of creative works whose titles end in this way. For example,

  • The Muppets Take Manhattan, a 1984 film
  • “First We Take Manhattan”, a 1987 song
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, a 1989 film
  • “The Angels Take Manhattan”, a 2012 episode of Doctor Who

What is the antecedent of these “take[s] Manhattan” titles?

  • I think it is the phrase "We will take Manhattan by storm" as an analogy for having a hit play on Broadway. – Oldcat Oct 23 '14 at 21:44
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    I wouldn't say these productions are following a trope; Manhattan is a frequent subject of popular culture and the sense of take is conventional: take (MW) is 3. a: to catch or attack through the effect of a sudden force or influence; b: to catch or come upon in a particular situation or action; c: to gain the approval or liking of : captivate, delight. – choster Oct 23 '14 at 21:44
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    A useful link : en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Archives/… – user66974 Oct 23 '14 at 21:48
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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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    A trope is a figure of speech. Here to take is used with the name of a town in military sense - quite a normal thing. – rogermue Oct 24 '14 at 6:14

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