Despite its nickname "the coat hanger," the bridge has a fond place in all Sydneysiders' hearts. Its opening on March 19, 1932 (during the height of the Great Depression), lifted the spirits of citizens and provided some very unexpected theater. As NSW Premier Jack Lang waited to cut the ribbon, Captain Francis de Groot, a member of the paramilitary New Guard, galloped up on his horse, drew his sword, and slashed the ribbon first.
There are several ways to experience the bridge and its spectacular views. One way is through the South East Pylon. To reach this city-side pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, walk along the bridge's pedestrian pathway. Access is from stairs on Cumberland Street, The Rocks (near BridgeClimb). This structure houses a display on the bridge's construction, and you can climb the 200 steps to the lookout and its unbeatable harbor panorama.
A second (more expensive) way is through the BridgeClimb tour. Not for those afraid of heights, the BridgeClimb
tour takes you on a guided walking tour to the very top of Harbour Bridge, 439 feet above sea level. The cost is A$218 per person for a night climb midweek and A$258 for a day climb, with slightly higher prices on weekends.
The third option is to walk to the midpoint of the bridge to take in the views free of charge, but be sure to take the eastern footpath, which overlooks the Sydney Opera House. Access is via the stairs on Cumberland Street (near the BridgeClimb meeting point) and close to the Shangri-La Hotel.