November 25, 1997 12:00 AM

Filmmaker and civic activist, Woody Allen, 64, helped thwart the construction of a 17-story apartment tower in his Manhattan Upper East Side neighborhood this week. “I’m very pleasantly surprised,” Allen told reporters after the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision. And the lesson he learned from the experience? “If you love the city, you really have to try all the time.”

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