Brink's was founded in Chicago on May 5, 1859 when Perry Brink purchased a horse-drawn wagon and made his first delivery. The wagon bore his new company's name – Brink's City Express. Chicago was booming, fueled by new railroads built to exploit the growing economy of the surrounding Midwestern U.S. With railroads came manufacturers, distributors, banks and insurance companies, all of whom attracted business travelers to the new city. In the early days, Brink used his single wagon to transport travelers' luggage between Chicago rail stations and hotels.
In 1860, Brink's employees delivered luggage and parcels during the Republican National Convention, where an estimated 50,000 delegates and spectators assembled to see local dark-horse candidate Abraham Lincoln win the nomination over other contenders.
In 1871, the Great Chicago fire destroyed some 18,000 buildings, including the headquarters of Brink's City Express. Miraculously, Brink's horses and wagons were saved and the company was back in operation within a week. As Chicago recovered, Brink's grew. By 1872, Brink's ran 20 wagons to every part of the city three times a day and had begun service to the prosperous new suburbs. The company advertised fees less than those of competitors: 25 cents to deliver a trunk from a train station to anywhere in the city.