In general, a limited amount of information on the history of specific provately owned properties can be found online. Deeds, survey maps and other records are held by local county record offices. The records are public information, but you'll probably need to visit the office in person to see them. Old city directories are also helpful, but it's possible that you may have to visit a public library to find those in your area. Here are some sources that describe the basics of property research:
Useful, if not historical, is Zillow, which contains current information on individual properties.
For additional research tips, consult: Hone, E. Wade, Land and Property Research. Salt Lake City, Utah : Ancestry, c1997. (Olin stacks CS49 H66 1997 +)
Located on the lower level of Olin Library, the Map & Geospatial Information collection houses a geographically comprehensive collection of over 240,000 maps, 3,200 books and atlases, 500 compact discs, and many other related research materials.
Use the Library Catalog to locate published county and town histories. Most efficient is to enter a SUBJECT search, e.g.,
For states with 2-word names, insert a space in the state abbreviation:
kings county n y
new york n y
berlin n h
For areas within New York City, the form of the heading is, e.g.:
brooklyn new york n y
Some headings use "old style" state abbreviations rather than the two-letter postal abbreviations, e.g,:
See a list of state abbreviations here.
Many old local histories are also available online via Google Books
In the Library Catalog, the subject sub-heading maps may be used after the name of a locale, for example: Iowa City (Iowa)--Maps.
Another useful subject heading to search in the Library Catalog is real property, followed by a location, followed by the sub-heading maps, for example: Real property--New York (State)--Cayuga Heights--Maps
Many 19th century city directories have been digitized and are available online. Try searching for the phrase "city directory" in the Internet Archive or Google Books. Also,scattered print copies of city directories may be found by searching the Library Catalog for the subject heading Cities and towns --United States --Directories.