At the intersection of Riverside Drive and 116th street are two buildings with opposing curves that gently guide one around the corner and then up Claremont Avenue. Back in 1897, the city decided to introduce these curves to better facilitate traffic flow for Veteran’s Day parades that terminated at the nearby Grant’s Tomb. The city also had plans to build an extension of Riverside Park on this block, but the plans were scrapped and the land was sold for speculative development. The brothers Charles and Joseph Paterno built both the Colosseum and the Paterno, located respectively at 435 and 440 Riverside Drive, from designs commissioned from the firm of Schwartz and Gross.
The larger of the two buildings, the Paterno, occupies the complete block width from Riverside Drive to Claremont Avenue and house 96 apartments within its twelve stories. The center of the curved façade is highlighted with a vertical band of ornately decorated windows and is capped with a copper faux mansard roof, complete with a false window that conceals the building’s water tank. Taking advantage of the steep decline in 116th Street as it extends west, the main entrance, technically in the basement, is through an arched porte-cochere that delivers one to the a stained glass vestibule. Seen from the corner of 116th Street, the building has a peculiar contrast in its massing, with one straight facade extending north and the similar but curved façade folding around to the east.