In this short paper we place Greater Manchester (GM) in two ways. First, we place historically the current construction of ‘Greater Manchester’ which has formed the territorial basis of the recently created Combined Authority. This reveals the work that has gone on by actors of varying geographical reach to build, maintain and nourish a particular set of governing arrangements, particular in the institutional vacuum created by the mid-1980s abolishing of the Greater Manchester Council. Second, we consider the geography of the GM metropolitan city-region and the competing spatial imaginaries that underlie it. That is, the ways in which spatial scales are imagined by different actors and over which there may be conflict and contestation. With the Greater Manchester Combined Authority increasingly presented as a model for others, including neighbouring Leeds and Liverpool, the argument is that the experience of GM reveals the broader set of forces that are shaping and structuring new state formations elsewhere in England. The paper concludes by considering the potential implications of this over the coming years.