No wonder the circular facades of two opposing 1910 apartment buildings at 116th Street and Riverside Drive seem so extraordinary.
On the south side is the 12-story Colosseum (left), the smaller of the two.
Talk about amenities: “The building boasts mahogany dining rooms, wall safes, and a ground-floor lounge for chauffeurs.”
Across the street at Claremont Avenue is the Paterno, 14 cylinder-shaped floors topped by a faux mansard roof and window that hides a water tank. “Through a spacious gateway one can drive directly into the building,” notes an ad from 1910.
Together the two residences, built by the same developer, the Paterno Brothers, form a grand gateway to Morningside Heights.
At the time, stately apartment houses were going up all over the neighborhood, which was then billed as the city’s Acropolis because of the cluster of colleges (like Columbia and Barnard) that put down stakes there.
Were the curvy facades purely for design, perhaps to mimic the gentle curves of newly fashionable Riverside Drive?
[Paterno ad: NYPL Digital Collection]