The building was officially opened on 21 July 1898.and provided a business environment for tailors, mercers, hairdressers, florists and coffee shops as well as showrooms and a concert hall. In the evening there was a grand ball for more than a thousand guests held in the adjacent Town Hall. at which the then Lord Mayor of Sydney, Matthew Harris, made a speech that reflected “faith in the future, the great theme of the Victorian age of optimism”, by saying:
A less costly building would have provided ample market accommodation. But it would have been short-sighted to have only studied the present to the exclusion of that great future which far-seeing men will agree will be almost infinite in possibilities.
The Druitt Street entrance was opened by the Lady Mayoress using a commemorative solid gold key on which was a model of the main dome and the smaller cupolas, “worth a good deal more than £50”, made by Fairfax and Roberts and presented by the Phippard Brothers. The building was illuminated by about 1000 Welsbach incandescent burners, equal in lighting power to about 70,000 candles, producing “floods of light” that even in the basement was judged to be “perfect”.