The story opens with a gossip columnist in the Hollywood hills doing a profile of Bugs Bunny. After Bugs's "estate" is revealed to be fancy colonnades and a water fountain leading to... his rabbit hole, Bugs pops out of the ground and agrees to give an interview.
He recounts his childhood growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This, the bulk of the cartoon's story, involves Bugs street-brawling with a gang of bulldogs. The bulldogs, offended by Bugs's cheerful manner and fancy clothes, decide to beat him up, but Bugs turns the tables in his usual style.
The lead bulldog is Hector (a.k.a. Spike) the bulldog, in one of his first appearances; Hector would later be a frequent opponent of Sylvester the Cat.
"A Hare Grows in Manhattan" provides examples of:
- Apologetic Attacker: Bugs shoves an apple pie in a bulldog's face. He apologies profusely, cleans the dog's face off, then shoves a cherry pie in it.
- Bait-and-Switch: The opening scenes show a long pan of Bugs' luxurious estate grounds. When the camera eventually gets to the house, however, it just turns out to be the usual hole in the ground that Bugs always lives in.
- Bowdlerization: When this cartoon aired on The WB, the following scenes were cut:
- Lola Beverly's opening narration of Bugs' Hollywood home was shortened for time reasons (the edited version only has her mention his swimming pool).
- The scene in which Bugs becomes part of the Egyptian cigarette billboard to escape the bulldog chasing him was cut to remove one Egyptian giving another a hot-foot (read: lighting a match under his foot; a common prank seen both in the Looney Tunes shorts, and done by the animators and directors at Termite Terrace), another Egyptian pointing to a cigarette butt at his feet, and to crop the shot so that way the word "CIGARETTES" is not shown.
- Dastardly Dapper Derby: The leader of the gang of dogs is a bulldog wearing a bowler hat.
- Dog Pile of Doom: Bugs is jumped by several large dogs in an alley. They attempt to dog-pile him, but in the end, it shows Bugs jumping up and down on top of the pile, leaving the leader of the dogs at the bottom.
- Elevator Gag: Bugs tries to lose Hector in the elevator of a building (pausing to look at the directory first). From the outside, the elevator is seen moving diagonally and then sideways, as if climbing stairs.
- Forgotten Framing Device: Bugs's story simply ends without referring back to the celebrity interview.
- Go Fetch: Bugs distracts Hector at one point simply by throwing a stick.
- Gravity Is A Harsh Seamstress: As Hector falls off a building, he hits several clotheslines on the way down, ending up dressed in baby clothes and then a nightgown.
- Hanging by the Fingers: At one point Hector is hanging from a clothesline, only for Bugs to peel away his fingers with the "this little piggy" routine.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The interviewer is meant to be Louella Parsons, a popular gossip columnist at the time. Bugs even calls her by her nickname "Lolly".
- Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Ends with Bugs walking away from the camera as he thumbs through A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
- Origins Episode: Sort of. The film does show that Bugs was born and grew up in Manhattan, but most of it is really just an extended fight sequence between Bugs and the bulldogs.
- Pie in the Face: At an automat, Bugs buys a slice of pie and hits Hector on the face with it. He then apologizes for it... because he claims the dog wanted cherry pie, and lets him have that too.
- Rooftop Confrontation: At one point Hector chases Bugs up to a roof, where Bugs attempts to hide in a billboard.
- Shout-Out: First, there's the title. Then, at the end Bugs finally gets rid of the dogs by holding up a book which turns out to be A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
- Throw the Book at Them: Bugs grabs a book to throw at the dogs. The dogs see the cover and run off; turns out the book was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and they decided to go there and see that tree. note
- Visual Pun: When Bugs and Hector run through the Stork Club (a popular nightclub in New York at the time), its clientele turn out to be actual storks.
- The Voice: The off-screen gossip columnist interviewing Bugs.
- Walk Like an Egyptian: Bugs tries to hide from a bulldog by becoming part of an animated advertising sign with Egyptian iconography.