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Messenger Bags

Tracking the rise of that ubiquitous urban accessory.

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Melanie Lidman

1860

Pony Express riders use mochilas, leather sacks slung over their saddles, to deliver the mail

1880s

Bindle sticks, the classic hoe-and-bandanna carryalls, become popular with unemployed Civil War veterans who’ve taken to the rails in search of work

1947

Tent manufacturer De Martini Globe Canvas Co. makes shoulder bags for telephone workers

1983

East Village resident John Peters founds Manhattan Portage, the granddaddy of messenger-bag companies

1989

Timbuk2 releases its three-panel courier bag

1995

Capitalizing on the all-things-X marketing zeitgeist, PAC Designs invents the X-strap to stabilize large loads

2009

The messenger bag goes high-tech with Arc’teryx’s Mistral, an ergonomically designed bag with a new rolltop closure

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