New York Is Only Manhattan

New York City is made up of five boroughs: Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Of them however Manhattan is the one that by far gets the most attention in fiction. New York State has it even worse. Despite what fiction may lead you to think, "New York City" is only a relatively small part of New York as a whole. In video games, this is often due to New York City's sheer size making it hard to fit everything in.

If a character comes from New York, they'll usually come from some portion of Manhattan, unless they come from a troubled background because then Brooklyn and the Bronx are fair game.

This trope exists in a certain tension with Big Applesauce: in practice, there can be a fine line between treating New York as a cartoon or Manhattan-centric version of itself, and treating familiarity with NYC as something to be assumed in one's audience (to the frequent irritation of non-New Yorkers). Predictably, the location and fineness of this line can vary by individual.

Related to Britain Is Only London, which is a similar situation in a different country. Compare Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe. SoCalization is similar, except with the whole United States being assumed to be like Southern California. Fulton Street Folly deals with concentrating on Lower Manhattan in particular.


  • There are NY state vacation advertisements with the slogan "There's more to New York than New York" meant to put emphasis on places besides Manhattan.
  • A New York City advertisement for Seamless boasts about how everything is "big" in NYC, except for the kitchens, by using clips of Manhattan. Small kitchens are also usually associated with Manhattan more than the other boroughs.

Comic Books
  • The Marvel Universe has this as a Zig Zagged Trope: While the majority of events that occur on New York visibly occur only on Manhattan, there are many heroes who live in other boroughs and thus occasionally had to deal with situations closer to home (example: Spider-Man being a Queens native, Captain America taking pride in bring from Brooklyn).
  • Deadpool: The main stories in the comic of Deadpool all take place not only on Manhattan, but within a 5 or 10 block Midtown area.

Film - Animation
  • The Disney feature Oliver & Company transpires almost entirely in Manhattan; the climax occurs on the Manhattan Bridge. Further, the opening scene is a slow pan of western Manhattan, and the closing scene is a zoom-out on Times Square.

Film - Live Action
  • Averted in The Snake Pit. When the mentally ill protagonist is tested on whether she's well enough to leave the mental institution:
    Man: Where were you living when you became ill?
    Virginia: New York.
    Man: Where in New York?
    Virginia: New York City.
    Man: I mean, where in New York City?
    Virginia: Manhattan.
  • Averted in Saturday Night Fever, which focuses on Brooklyn.

Live-Action TV

  • Averted in the Young Wizards series. The protagonists live in Nassau County, on Long Island, and the series consequently spends quite a bit of time there. The entire second book is set in The Hamptons. (That said, the main action of the first book does take place on a day trip to Manhattan.)
  • In Cities in Flight, the flying city of New York consists only of Manhattan.

Video Games
  • The first Midnight Club starts off in New York, but is limited to Manhattan. The only evidence that the other boroughs exist is that one of your rivals, Larry Muller, proudly states he's from Queens.
  • True Crime: New York City takes place in New York City (as you can tell from the title). Once again, the city seems to be relegated to Manhattan. Debug mode reveals other areas of New York. They have named streets, vehicles and pedestrians, but no buildings. It's possible they were Dummied Out due to NYC being too large.
  • Averted by Driver and Driver: Parallel Lines. Driver takes place in New York in the last part of the game and part of the map includes Brooklyn. Parallel Lines, on the other hand, includes not only Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx (but not Staten Island), but a portion of New Jersey as well.
  • Averted in Grand Theft Auto IV, where every borough except Staten Island and even part of New Jersey (In the form of Alderney), is represented in its Liberty City.
  • In Assassin's Creed III Connor and Desmond only visit Manhattan, though in the former's case it's justified because during the 18th Century New York City was comprised solely of what would later be called Lower Manhattan.
  • The Division starts out in Brooklyn but the rest is in Manhattan.
  • In Lego Marvel Super Heroes the island of Manhattan is used as a conveniently well-defined location for everything to happen on. For this to work, the game's designers have moved some things to Manhattan that are normally situated in greater New York (such as the X-Mansion, which in the comics is upstate in Salem Center).

Western Animation

Real Life
  • For a good 250 years, New York was only Manhattan. The original Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (founded 1624), renamed New York when the English captured it in 1664, was on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. The communities of the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens were independent municipalities separate from New York City. Between 1895 and 1898 those outlying boroughs were merged with the old New York City to create what was then informally called "Greater New York".