Although it might appear like just another L.A. freeway, a new book explains the unique charms of the 101 Freeway. “Highway 101: The History of El Camino Real” posits that unlike any other U.S. interstate, the 101 route wasn’t chosen for engineering or utilitarian reasons. It was conceived as a romantic recreation of “The King’s Road” connecting the California missions. It turns out that a 1901 antiquarian project to recreate the mission trail grew into the six-lane superhighway that now runs across the Valley floor. It was part of the first federal highway system in 1926. Author Stephen Provost grew up in Woodland Hills and has fond memories of the freeway. “The 101 is a kaleidoscope of shifting personalities that keep the traveler engaged from the Mexican border all the way to the Oregon state line,” he told the Business Journal. Because of its historical allure, the 101 has been used as a marketing ploy for tourist destinations, products and restaurants. The book includes 200 historic photographs of life and commerce along the 101. For those stuck in traffic on this historic thoroughfare, Provost has some advice. “Look around and see what you can see,” he said. “Ask yourself, ‘What’s the story behind that old building or that billboard?’ There are untold stories and all-but-forgotten history all around us. … The more you look, the more questions come to mind, and the less you’ll worry about the traffic.” “Highway 101” retails for $20.95 online and in bookstores.