Churches, mosques, and synagogues have likely been a linchpin of your community for years. From the churches of Harlem to the synagogues of the Lower East Side, there is a deep sense of history in many urban spiritual centers. The only reliable way to guess the ethnic make-up of an immigrant neighborhood is to peep the holy temples on every corner.
The center of politics, art, and local identity in the community used to be these places of worship. These sanctuaries will surely shut down in short order. As the generations who went to these churches flee to more affordable rents, the agnostic children of WASP take their place, and have little use for these holy spots as they stand. A new generation prefers to pray in private to a diety they aren't sure exists.
It's strange seeing so many empty churches in gentrified communities. These vast spaces with matching rents no longer have any "practical use." These buildings, with their stained-glass windows and sculpted rock, are historical landmarks; developers are going to have trouble reducing the buildings to piles of rubble for condiminiums. Many of them turn into temporary art spaces as they fall into disrepair. This week it is an art gallery. Next week their will be an indie-rock show. The week after it will be the newest outpost of the Brooklyn Flea.
You should come check out our photography exhibit on religious iconography next month. We've heard it's life-changing.