American writer Lucius Beebe called New York City “Babylon on the make” in his column in the New York (NY) Herald Tribune on June 26, 1937. Beebe also used “Babylon on the make” in columns published on February 19, 1944 and July 22, 1944. The New York City nickname wasn’t used by other writers.
American writer Nelson Algren (1909-1981) would call Chicago a “city on the make” in 1951.
Wikipedia: Lucius Beebe
Lucius Morris Beebe (December 9, 1902 – February 4, 1966) was an American author, gourmand, photographer, railroad historian, journalist, and syndicated columnist.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
slang (orig. U.S.). on the make: intent on profit or advancement; (also) intent on winning someone’s affections; seeking sexual pleasure; improving, advancing, getting better.
1863 S. P. Boyer Jrnl. 18 July in E. Barnes & J. A. Barnes Naval Surgeon I. ix. 158, I don’t think he acted very friendly but have an idea that he is on the ‘make’.
1869 J. R. Browne Adventures Apache Country 507 ‘Oh, you’re on the make, are you?’.. ‘Why, yes, to be candid, I’d like to make fifty thousand or so.’
26 June 1937, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “Stage Asides” by Lucius Beebe, sec. 6, pg. 14, col. 1:
The folk who make the glitter scene of Babylon-on-the-Make in 1937, however are all identifiable.
Snoot If You Must
By Lucius Morris Beebe
New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company, Incorporated
In saner communities business is not accomplished in the fine Scotch mist that envelops every sort of professional or commercial transaction in Babylon-on-the-Make, and the outlander is frightened out of his wits at the spectacle of people achieving their affairs in an atmosphere which in his mind is associated only with extravagant whoopdedo.
19 February 1944. New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “This New York” by Lucius Beebe, pg. 11, col. 1:
Babylon-on-the-Make’s archetypal citizen isn’t so much Father Knickerbocker as he is Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford.
22 July 1944, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “This New York” by Lucius Beebe, pg. 9, col. 1:
... and other co-operative reporters who have found the Stork a lush source and fountainhead for yards of wonderful, wonderful copy about Babylon-on-the-Make.
Tracking a Dream Across America
By Henry Kisor
Holbrook, MA: Adams Pub.
In it (the newspaper column—ed.) Beebe chronicled what he called “the nervous hilarity of the damned” in “Babylon-on-the-Make,” writing of “calamitous potations,” “vaguely anonymous spaniels” and “the purlieus of magnificence.”