Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue has eight tracks and four island platforms, with trains entering from both compass north and south. It is located at the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues in Coney Island, the site of the former West End Terminal. Geographically, the station is the southernmost terminal in the New York City Subway system.
Rail transportation to Coney Island had been available since 1864. The Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Railroad was the first steam railroad to Coney Island. It ran from Fifth Avenue and 36th Street in what is now Sunset Park, to its West End Terminal, at the present-day Coney Island Terminal's location, along what is now the right-of-way of the West End Line. The nearby Culver Depot, along the Atlantic Ocean waterfront near the site of the present-day West Eighth Street station, served the Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Coney Island Railway (now the Brighton Line) and Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad (now the Culver Line). Other rail transportation included the Manhattan Beach Railroad; the Sea Beach Railroad; the Coney Island and Brooklyn Railroad; and Long Island City via the Long Island Rail Road.
These railroads were not all connected to each other, resulting in a series of spur lines crossing the island. However, the Brighton, Culver, Sea Beach, and West End railroads were acquired by the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) by the late 1890s, and the Dual Contracts, signed in 1913, allowed many more subway lines to be built within New York City, which had been incorporated fifteen years prior.
In the late 1910s, a completely reconstructed New West End Terminal (which gradually became better known as Coney Island Terminal) was built on an elevated structure. The new terminal unified the terminals of most of the former steam railroad lines terminating at Coney Island, aside from the Long Island Rail Road-controlled New York and Manhattan Beach Railway. This new terminal could accommodate hundreds of thousands of passengers a day. This project entailed rerouting the Brighton and Culver Lines from a ground-level alignment to an elevated structure with four tracks and eight platforms.
The BRT-operated Sea Beach Line, which served the terminal, opened on September 5, 1917, and the BRT West End Line had been similarly inaugurated on December 23, 1918. The terminal officially opened on May 29, 1919, when the new Brighton Line opened. With the opening of the Culver Line on May 1, 1920, the terminal was finally completed.