George R.R. Martin has said in the past that the Hadrian’s Wall has been the inspiration behind the Wall that protects the realm from the White Walkers and other dangers that lurk in the region to the north of the Wall. The Hadrian’s Wall was built during the reign of emperor Hadrian in 122 AD and it stretched from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea.
Now George R.R. Martin has revealed that in addition to the Hadrian’s Wall, there is another event, a real life event that inspired the Wall: the great Chicago blizzard of 1967.
George R.R. Martin revealed this when he was in Chicago recently to receive an alumni award from the Medill School of Journalism. Martin was studying journalism in Chicago at the time when the incident occurred and it left a lasting impression on him. When he was asked by a student if the brutal winters of Chicago were comparable to the winters in Westeros, this is what he said.
The coldest winter was in Chicago, let me tell you about cold. There was so much snow that winter, you couldn’t see, all snow, all ice, and it was so very cold. It was like the trenches during World War I, but they were trenches of ice. I remember walking through the trenches and the tunnels of ice, the wind blowing so you couldn’t even see. It’s an experience that never left me.
Martin added that this was the time where the Wall began to form in his mind when he started writing the Song of Ice and Fire.