Reading older books is an odd experience sometimes. Especially books set in the 50's and 60's. It's just modern enough for you not to notice differences right away, but foreign enough that you do end up saying "hey, wait a minute..." every once in awhile. If this were a contemporary novel, I'd expect to hear about genetically modified crops, desalinization plants, water recycling, rooftop gardens, caching rain water, renewable energy sources, and other technological ways to get more use out of very limited resources. In other words, something like METAtropolis. Instead, we have the exact same technology of the 60's plus hovercraft, but twice as many people.
I was kind of expecting a city like the now destroyed Kowloon Walled City in China - an estimated 30,000 people on 6 1/2 acres of land.
In those conditions, NYC's current 18 millon people would fit into just 6 square miles. Now, that's crowded. The New York of Make Room, Make Room is nowhere near that level. There's still streets, alleys and open space - odd since there's ten times the people living there than the city was built for with no construction possible due to the lack of supplies. But, it isn't a lack of space that is the issue - it's mainly a lack of food, water, and fuel.
I admit, I was hoping to find out that Soylent Green is people. Alas, there was no dramatic revelation. I'll have to watch the movie version to find that out.