When Harry Truman said, “It’s the greatest monstrosity in America,” he was describing not a Republican Congress, but the (Old) Executive Office Building. The Tidal Basin used to be a bathing beach —until the commissioner of public grounds banned black bathers in the 1930s, causing a furor that closed the beach altogether. These and other factlets about Washington sites abound in Bill Harris’ Black and White Washington (Thomasson-Grant), a slim volume of duotone photographs dating from the Civil War to the present. Harris is himself a New Yorker: “I love Washington—I just don’t get there much,” he explains. That he hasn’t been here in 10 years is no surprise, judging from the earnestly optimistic tone of his text. Nevertheless, his 78-page hardcover book features an impressive collection of images, including work by 1940s and ’50s fashion photographer Toni Frissell, Industrial Revolution-era children’s advocate Lewis Hine, and Washington City Paper photographer Darrow Montgomery. While most of the photos document tourist spots, there are some atypical views of the Capitol dome, including one with a low-income neighborhood in the foreground. Harris also presents evocative scenes from other eras, like a shot of the Washington Monument covered with scaffolding. That photo was taken when the monument was being cleaned as a WPA project in 1934, and times were tough; Harris discovered that someone climbed the 500-foot-plus structure to steal its platinum-tipped lightning rods.