Jamaica-179 Street is the terminus of the F train and the Queens Blvd line. It is the only terminal in the subway system where a four track express line suddenly terminates without first becoming a three or two-track line. The station was designed to be an intermediate express stop (where the local trains would have terminated) for the never-built IND Second System that would have extended service much farther out into Queens. The station is a rare post war stop opening after 1950, long after the subway had opened to 169 Street in 1937. 169 Street made for a quite awkward inefficient terminus. Today with the station as a terminal, what would be the Queens-bound Island platform is an exit platform (which makes for an amusing, and unique for the subway, sign above the elevator to this platform that says 'Use other elevator for F'). Here trains discharge their passengers before running into the labyrinth of tracks that composes a bit of an underground train yard beyond the station that is on two levels: there are a total of 8 tracks for relaying trains, 4 on the upper level for the express tracks and 4 on the lower level for the local tracks. The upper level express tracks are partially designed to be through tracks for never-built extensions deeper into Queens. Trains re-enter service on what would be the Manhattan-bound platform. All four tracks are used. A few rush hour E train trips (about 3 round-trips per rush hour, if I have figured out to read the data for developers correctly) serve the station due to capacity constraints at the Jamaica Center terminal. These run express stopping at Parsons Blvd, Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike and all regular E train stops to World Trade Center.
The trimline along the walls of the local tracks have a very unusual design: orange lines and blue lines that are parallel and cross at random locations as well as go up and down. These are the consequences of the station's post World War II newness. The only slightly similar stops are on the Euclid Avenue subway extension on the A, C opened in 1948.
Upstairs, there the two separate sets of turnstiles, above them are some unique signs that are still backlit by florescent lights from sometime in the 1980s and updated as recently as 1992 when the R was cut back from serving the station, (it had been extended to replace the E rerouted in 1988 to the new Archer Avenue extension that no longer served the station). These lighted signs include directions to all the bus lines upstairs as well, very important since the station serves so many bus lines. Bus lines are reinforced in traditional signage as well. All of the exits, there are 15 in total are to streetstairs along each side of Hillside Avenue, plus an elevator installed in the 2000s. Many of the streetstairs have a unique design with a flat green roof above the staircase (with two lights in it) to shelter passengers going up an down. Above the two platforms with many staircases up to it from each platform is a long full-length mezzanine that is mostly within fare control. There is also an elevator up from each platform.
Entrances are towards either end and both of these also have an additional staircase up from the extreme end of the terminating platform to two high exit turnstiles across from the regular turnstiles. The eastern entrance is fully staffed with the one remaining token booth, it leads directly out to two streetstairs plus the street elevator near the SE corner of Hillside Avenue and 179 Place, the one along Hillside Avenue has the roof unique to this station and the other looks newer and normal. There are an additional two roofed staircases accessed via a short staircase inside the station up to the Northside of Hillside Avenue (179 Place ends at the intersection) across from these. From this exit, beyond the end of the platforms, a passageway leads beneath the northside of Hillside Avenue to a streetstair (normal) at the NW and continues to a roofed streetstair at the NE corners of Midland Parkway (the entrance to Jamaica Estates). Another separate, slightly shorter, passageway leads beneath the southside of Hillside Avenue down to normal streetstairs at the SW and SE corners of 180 and Hillside Avenue.
The western entrance is now unstaffed and without a token booth. It still has a single High Entrance Turnstile from when the turnstiles were part time. Right at the fare control area is a roofed staircase to the SE and a normal one at the SW corners of 179 Street and Hillside Avenue, across from this intersection (where 179 Street ends) are two more roofed streetstairs on the northside of Hillside Avenue. These have a small staircase inside the station up to them and an original little painted directional sign still reads 179th St. Two separate passageways (with a non-public area sitting on the mezzanine in between) lead to additional entrances towards the east. On the Southside of Hillside Avenue is a roofed streetstair between 178th Street and 179th Street, the northside has a normal streetstair between Edgerton Blvd (which 178th Street becomes crossing Hillside Avenue) and 179th Street. This northern passageway has an interesting mosaic for 'Monastery and Retreat House.' It is specifically for Immaculate Conception Monastery (or Retreat) a Catholic institution two blocks north.