Prior to being obtained by the Champaign Park District, West End Park contained attractions such as carnival rides, a roller coaster, a casino, refreshment booths, a shooting gallery, and a 600-person theater. Beginning in 1894, the park was the setting for extravagant Fourth of July parties.
A horse and mule drawn railway, later converted to an electric railway, served the park. Lines extended down Church Street to the downtown area in July 1891, and would cost $0.05 to travel from West End Park to Crystal Lake Park in Urbana (1).
Today Eisner Park looks very different, but serves the community's needs with a playground, an unlighted baseball field, an unlighted tennis court, and an unlighted basketball court.
The park also has picnic areas, outdoor drinking fountains, and a parking lot.
Eisner park is home to the Hays Recreation Center, a multipurpose recreation center that has classes and programs for preschoolers, youths, and adults. The recreation center was the Eisner Food Store, owned by the Jewel Tea Company, before it was bought by the City of Champaign in 1959 for $40,000. In 1967 it was transferred to the Park District for use as a recreation center, and was expanded in 1975 for over $170,000 (2).
Originally known as the "C" Center, it was renamed in 1985 after Nelle G. Hays, a longtime Champaign Park District employee.