Though many people associate this song with Frank Sinatra, it was Liza Minnelli who debuted it in the 1977 film of the same name, which was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Minnelli and Robert De Niro as musicians and lovers. It was written for the film by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote many songs for her, including the Cabaret songs "Maybe This Time" and "Yes." Frank Sinatra began performing this in 1978 at concerts in New York's Radio City Music Hall. His version was released on his 1980 triple album Trilogy: Past, Present and Future, which was highly acclaimed and brought the singer back in the public eye. "New York, New York" quickly became one of Sinatra's signature songs.
While many songs have been written about New York City, no song has captured the pride and elegance of the city quite like this one. The lyrics, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere" sum up what many New Yorkers feel about their city: competition is intense, but success there is richly rewarded and very satisfying. The song stresses personal responsibility in the line, "It's up to you, New York, New York," as it's a place where you can't expect a handout but have an opportunity to succeed no matter who you are. This song also popularized New York as the "City that never sleeps," which is true in the literal sense that many businesses are open 24 hours but also in the figurative sense that you are expected to always be at your best.